News

Red 31 nearly doubles ‘in a good way’

By Lindsay Briscoe

Red 31 has been burning for two weeks, has expanded from 11,000 to over 17,000 hectares in size and remains a regional priority for fire ranger crews but the Ministry of Natural Resources is confident the fire poses no risk to neighbouring communities.

“The fire’s not going to get any smaller. It’s going to get bigger but it’s getting bigger in a good way. It’s not threatening any community. It’s not going to cause any evacuation or anything,” said Northwest Region Fire Information Officer Heather Pridham. “Aerial ignition has occurred on the fire and has been very successful and has allowed the fire to burn to its natural boundaries such as lakes and bays. This has greatly reduced the length of fire line construction the rangers would have to complete in dangerous blow down conditions.”

She points out that rain over the weekend helped calm the fire as well which means it’s now burning along the ground and no longer in tree tops as it was last week.

The upcoming weather forecast is still keeping crews on their toes, however.

“We expect the next couple of days might be challenging especially with hot and sunny moderate winds with the possibility of thunder storms. Any time you have those hot summer days repeatedly that’s when you get into the threat of afternoon thunder storms and with that comes lightning.”

Crews are still working on the eastern flank of the fire but are, at the same time, working their way around the fire.

“Generally you don’t fight a forest fire right from the head. You fight it from the flanks, the sides,” explains Pridham. “We don’t want to put our FireRangers in front of a fire because that’s when you get into those situations when they might become entrapped or the fire overtakes them and then we have major issues. In Ontario our standard is always to fight fires from the flank and work your way around to the front.”

Earlier this week there were 53 crews (212 individual FireRangers) working on Red 31. Pridham says some northeastern Ontario FireRangers have been dispatched to fires in Quebec and the Northwest Territories but northwest crews will stick around the area for the next while. As of Monday, the northwest was experiencing a moderate-high fire hazard with 31 fires burning in the northwest – the majority in the Red Lake area. At about 40 km northwest of Red Lake and occupying 300 hectares, Red Lake 24 was another regional priority at the time.

As of July 15, 12 helicopters were working on Red Lake Fire 31 alone and can be seen and heard passing over the area on a daily basis. Photo by Pamela O'Neill
As of July 15, 12 helicopters were working on Red Lake Fire 31 alone and can be seen and heard passing over the area on a daily basis. Photo by Pamela O’Neill
 A FireRanger works to repair and repack a kit of tools. Photo by Pamela O'Neill
A FireRanger works to repair and repack a kit of tools. Photo by Pamela O’Neill
The Red Lake Fire Management Headquarters is a hive of activity both downstairs in the warehouse and upstairs where employees, like this young woman, work in support, logistics and planning.
The Red Lake Fire Management Headquarters is a hive of activity both downstairs in the warehouse and upstairs where employees, like this young woman, work in support, logistics and planning. Photo by Pamela O’Neill
While “living on the line” (at the base of a fire) crews pack and are responsible for 48-hour food kits full of non-perishable food items along with fresh produce and dairy and freezer packs with a variety of proteins. FireRangers can work up to 16 hours a day on fire in extreme temperatures and conditions. Their diets are set accordingly. Photo by Pamela O'Neill
While “living on the line” (at the base of a fire) crews pack and are responsible for 48-hour food kits full of non-perishable food items along with fresh produce and dairy and freezer packs with a variety of proteins. FireRangers can work up to 16 hours a day on fire in extreme temperatures and conditions. Their diets are set accordingly. Photo by Pamela O’Neill
Fire Management Supervisor, Randy Crampton points to a map showing a number of fires burning in the area and their status on July 11. Photo by Pamela O'Neill
Fire Management Supervisor, Randy Crampton points to a map showing a number of fires burning in the area and their status on July 11. Photo by Pamela O’Neill
FireRangers must learn how to pack fast and efficiently. Depending on the length of stay on fire, they carry one of two packs referred but together referred to as the “reds and blues.” A typical blue pack – intended for a 48 hour stay – would consist of a tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, clothing for several types of weather, a headlamp, shoes other than work boots, personal items and prescription medications. Crews also carry satellite phones, tarps, hammers and cooking gear. Photo by Pamela O'Neill
FireRangers must learn how to pack fast and efficiently. Depending on the length of stay on fire, they carry one of two packs referred but together referred to as the “reds and blues.” A typical blue pack – intended for a 48 hour stay – would consist of a tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, clothing for several types of weather, a headlamp, shoes other than work boots, personal items and prescription medications. Crews also carry satellite phones, tarps, hammers and cooking gear. Photo by Pamela O’Neill

 

 

 

 

 

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