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Lack of Forest Fires In NWO In 2022

By Katie Nicholls Aug 15, 2022 | 10:29 AM

Tengyart / Unsplash

There has been a significant lack of forest fires in northwestern Ontario this year.

To some, it is surprising. However, Chris Marchand, Fire Information Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services, says this is good because of a few factors.

He notes that the long winter helped keep more moisture in the ground, which means it was less likely to start smoking and cause a fire. Marchand also notes that the fairly frequent precipitation has aided Ontario’s landscape as a whole because there have not been mass drought periods with large rainstorms coming to flood the lands.

Last year was a record-breaking year for forest fires as there were 782,119 hectares (1.4 million football fields) of land affected by fire, compared to this year, where there have been only 2,416.9 hectares (4516 football fields) caught ablaze.

With just over a thousand forest fires this year, Ontario has only had to deal with 16 per cent of last year’s total number of fires to date.

Marchand notes that there are still risks of them happening even though the odds are in our favour.

Campfires should be:

  • Built close to a water source and sheltered from the wind
  • Built on bare rock or mineral soil
  • No larger than 1 metre wide or tall
  • No closer than 1 metre from flammable material and 3 metres from overhanging branches and vegetation
  • Never left unattended
  • Fully extinguished when leaving the site

Burn piles should be:

  • Lit no sooner than 2 hours before sunset and extinguished 2 hours after sunrise
  • No larger than 2 m wide, 2 m high and kept 2 m away from flammable materials
  • Burned one pile at a time
  • Tended by a responsible person, with water and hand tools, until fully extinguished

There are a few questions that are good to ask yourself before you light a fire.

  • Are there restrictions in place against fires at your location either through a MNRF Restricted Fire Zone, or a locally administered municipal fire ban?
  • What is the fire hazard in my local area?
  • What size of fire do you have in mind? Fires over one metre wide and tall have different rules to follow.

If your fire is over one metre in width and height, it is a ‘pile’ which is subject to rules designed to avoid outdoor burning in peak daytime burning conditions when winds are typically highest and relative humidity is lowest. Daytime burning of piles is not permitted during the fire season (April 1 to Oct. 31).

It’s recommended that chipping or composting woody debris when possible

The answers to all of these questions can be found at our website at Ontario.ca/forestfire, or in the case of a municipal fire ban – your local fire department.


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