Another season doneFriday, November 02, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
As the 2012 forest fire season officially ended this week on Wednesday October 31, only one active fire remains in the Northeast Region.
Hearst 32 is 100 hectares in size and is listed as under control.
This fire season was one of the busiest the Northeast Region has seen in the past few years.
The number of fires and area burnt was not a historical high for the Northeast Region, however the difference than in recent years was the larger urban interface fires that presented themselves in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake areas.
Ontario fire rangers and forest fire fighters from across Canada lent their expertise to battle 948 wildfires across the northeast in 2012.
A busy start to the fire season called for evacuations due to fires in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake areas.
The province’s largest fire of the season, Timmins 9, grew to 39,524 hectares and resulted in evacuations of some areas surrounding Timmins and Gogama.
North Bay 8 caused the evacuation of some residents in Latchford, while Timmins 7 caused evacuations in the communities Westree, Morin Village and the Ostrum Mill.
Urban interface fires this season also caused a number of highway closures.
Highway 17 was closed in the Pembroke and Wawa areas, Highway 144 north to Timmins closed, as well as highways 560 in the Westree area, 66 in the Larder Lake area and 652 in the Cochrane area.
All listed highways were closed for different periods of time due to public safety hazards that presented themselves as a result of wildfires.
Fire rangers installed over 600 sprinkler units, known as values protection, on threatened structures to offer protection from approaching wildfires.
Fire suppression was also key this summer in various provincial parks in the region, including Algonquin Provincial Park which saw 40 forest fires within park boundaries.
Pembroke district and a large portion of eastern Ontario declared level 2 drought conditions this year, requiring fire rangers to assist municipal fire departments and the Canadian Forces Base in Petawawa with wildfires in those areas.
Assistance was also provided outside of the Northeast Region this season.
Staff from the northeast provided specialized suppression support to a fire in the Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area in the Niagara Peninsula, working in conjunction with a number of local authorities.
AFFES also lent its expertise to assist municipal agencies to suppress a fire in the Kemptville area.
Various emergency situations also required the expertise and assistance of AFFES personnel in the northeast, such as aviation services that provided evacuation assistance when floods threatened northern communities during the James Bay coast ice breakup.
Even with the busy fire season, staff from the Northeast Region participated in valuable public outreach and various public functions, from educational school demonstrations, to tours with the Canadian Institute of Forestry Teachers Tour.
Public education continued throughout the busy season.
Successful use of prescribed burning as a research and land management tool took place throughout the Northeast region during the 2012 season.
In North Bay, three research plots were completed in Phelps Township.
The objective was to promote the growth of planted and natural red oak regeneration by using prescribed burning as a tending method.
The results of prescribed burning as a tending method will be compared to results of no tending and studies using herbicides and brush saws as methods of tending to red oak.
The Shoals Prescribed Burn was conducted in The Shoals Provincial Park, located about 48 km west of Chapleau.
The Shoals Provincial Park is located in the boreal forest, an ecosystem that is fire dependent and required natural periodic fire disturbance to maintain and regenerate some of the native Red Pine and White Pine forest stands.
The Prescribed Burn will also aid in reducing the wildfire risk in the area, increasing visitor and staff safety, as well as protecting infrastructure and values at risk.
Prescribed burning was also used on two plots of land in the Pembroke area, covering a total area of 6.2 hectares on the highway 60 corridor at the Lake of Two Rivers airfield.
The objectives of the burn were to assist park staff with habitat manipulation of a grassland area for songbird research and to promote the development of fire management and ecosystem management techniques for the park’s interpretive program.
October finished in the region with quite the winter show bringing cold, wet and snowy weather and an end to forest fire hazards.
A fitting closure to a season that began in the early winter months of the year!