Quetico backcountry closed to tenting, journey as a consequence of forest fires in northwestern Ontario

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Camping and travel in Quetico Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario have been temporarily banned due to forest fires, Ontario Parks said.

The closure of the hinterland came into effect on Tuesday, the organization announced on its website, referring to “increased forest fires” and “smoke exposure”.

CBC News has requested comments from Ontario Parks but has not yet received a response.

Nine fires were burning in Quetico on Tuesday. They are among the more than 100 fires that burn in northwestern Ontario.

Major fires in the area include:

  • Kenora 51 which is about 200,600 acres and is out of control. The fire burns about 20 kilometers north of Wabaseemoong First Nation, on the north side of Umfreville Lake. According to Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES), fire behavior is increasing in the eastern and northeastern parts of the fire due to the warm and sunny weather. An evacuation from Wabameesoong began last week.
  • Red Lake 65, about six kilometers west of Poplar Hill First Nation and about 20,200 acres. The fire smoldered with visible smoke. Poplar Hill was evacuated about a month ago, but residents returned home last week.
  • Red Lake 51 is approximately 53,500 acres and is located approximately 15 miles west of Deer Lake First Nation. The fire smoldered with visible smoke. Deer Lake was evacuated about a month ago, but residents have been returning home in the past few days.
  • Red Lake 77, out of control on approximately 32,800 acres and located approximately 20 miles west of Red Lake. AFFES said activity on Tuesday will increase on the west flank of the fire, while activity on the east flank is expected to increase due to wind and higher temperatures.

Heat warnings, air quality declaration issued

Environment Canada reissued heat warnings Tuesday for much of northwestern Ontario; The higher temperatures are expected to last until at least Wednesday, the agency said earlier this week.

An air quality statement was also issued Tuesday for the Atikokan, Shebandowan and Quetico areas due to smoke that, according to Environment Canada, “could continue to affect the area through Saturday, when the wind is expected to turn northwest”.

An Ontario government emergency order for the Northwest enables the province to take special measures “to keep people safe and protect critical property.”

The restrictions apply to certain industries that have the potential to cause sparks and start fires. A full list of affected operations is available on the Ontario Forest Fire Information page.

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