KENORA, Ont. — A forest fire burning about 35 kilometres east of Kenora has resulted in a voluntary evacuation.
A cluster of three fires was initially discovered Monday in the North Narrow Lake area near Highway 17.
Video taken from the highway and posted on Facebook by Phillip John Jacobson on Monday evening showed flames shooting high up into the sky.
The fires advanced to the northeast toward Willard Lake and combined to become one fire that had burned about 150 hectares as of Tuesday afternoon.
At 8:00 p.m. EDT the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry issued an update which indicated the fire had not grown in size.
"Water bombers have been quite effective today and have been over the fire all day. Crews are setting up sprinklers on structures near the fire," a news release stated.
Ministry spokesperson Chris Marchand had said earlier that the fire was relatively close to road and rail corridors but remained north of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Marchand said MNRF personnel were positioned at Willard Lake to organize an evacuation of the area – where there are year-round residences as well as summer camps – but at this point the evacuation would be voluntary.
The fire is being waterbombed by four ministry aircraft.
Another fire, 50 kilometres north of Kenora, burned 1,000 hectares by early Tuesday evening. MNRF crews were setting up sprinklers on structures in the path of the fire.
The forest fire hazard is high to extreme in southerly portions of Northwestern Ontario.
"High winds and low humidity is leading to very strong fire behaviour, as evidenced at Willard Lake," Marchand said.
A dozen new fires were discovered across the region on Tuesday, bringing the number of active blazes to 26, of which 20 were not under control Tuesday evening..
Newfoundland and Labrador has sent two CL-415 waterbombers and seven crew members to Dryden to provide support in the MNRF's Northwest Region.
Late Tuesday, the Northwestern Health Unit issued an air quality alert for the Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Dryden areas.
It said smoke from forest fires was impacting air quality, and urged susceptible individuals to minimize the time they spend outdoors, including the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with heart or lung conditions.
This story was updated at 8:34 p.m.