Almost all of Manitoulin under fire ban

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MANITOULIN—With the hot and dry weather conditions the Manitoulin Island area is currently experiencing, a fire ban has been in place in virtually every community on the Island for about a week.

“Yes, we have a fire ban in place,” said John Reid, fire chief for the municipality of Central Manitoulin volunteer fire department last week, noting that the fire ban was put in place on May 31. He pointed out that Tehkummah, Northeast Town, Billings, Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee-Mills all have fire bans in place. Assiginack is waiting for the province to declare one for the township. 

“It is super dry, and we’ve had what, a half inch of rain in the past few weeks?” said Mr. Reid. 

“It wouldn’t take much  for a major fire to take place,” said Martin Connell, Billings township fire chief. “An ember from a bonfire, or a spark from an ATV with it being as dry as  it is wouldn’t take much. It’s right on the cusp of a forest fire index rating of extreme.” 

Mike Addison, Town of Gore Bay fire chief said the situation, “is scary, it’s so dry and hot.”

Tim Mackinlay, a member of the Robinson Township fire department, on behalf of Fire Chief Doug Wismer said in an email June 2, “this afternoon chief (Doug) Wismer filed the necessary paperwork to our (fire ban) advisory to the OFM.”

Jane Wismer, secretary of the Robinson Township Fire Department pointed out it was only earlier this year that they were granted permission to request fire bans when needed from the OFM. Previous to this it would be up to the province to put a fire ban in place for unorganized townships. 

Earlier this week the application was granted and a fire ban is now in place in Robinson Township.

Shayne McCool, fire information officer with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) told The Expositor late last Friday,  “for the Northeast region the fire rating is high to extreme in most areas. Manitoulin is under an extreme hazard.” 

“No at this point we have not put a restricted fire zone (RFZ) in place,” said Mr. McCool. He explained an RFZ is put in place, “based on a combination of things, the number of fires in an area that crews are working on, weather conditions, the fire-fighting personnel we have available as well as other mitigating factors that play a role.” He noted 800 fire crew personnel can be utilized by MNRF, “and we can move rangers in quite quickly to an area where a fire is taking place.” 

Under  a fire ban no campfires, fireworks or chimineas are allowed and there is no special provision for campgrounds. No open fire cooking, including charcoal, is allowed.