ONTARIO — Wildfire season begins tomorrow across the province, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is getting ready to tackle the flames. Last year, there were 607 wildfires, half of which were caused by humans, resulting in the burning of 15,460 hectares of land. While it was below the ten-year average, the Ministry still intends to prepare for the worst.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has hired highly trained firefighters, pilots and support staff and is providing health and safety, and specialized training. MNRF also ensures equipment is maintained, so that the ministry is ready to respond to wildland fires and other natural resource emergencies.
“Our government has been diligently monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the province as well as planning and preparing for the wildland fire season within this evolving landscape,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Nothing is more important than protecting the safety of the people and communities across the province, including our staff. We will continue to deliver emergency services in the safest work environment possible for employees.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year the government placed province-wide restrictions on the use of outdoor fires by way of a Restricted Fire Zone (RFZ). With health and safety protocols around COVID-19 now well-established, an RFZ is not necessary at this time. However, the province will continue to assess forest fire hazard conditions now that the fire season has arrived and an RFZ designation may be required if the fire hazard warrants.
The ministry is closely monitoring weather conditions, which is a key factor in determining how busy the fire season will be. MNRF also strives to detect fires early to avoid large, complex fires, especially near communities and critical infrastructure.