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AFFES is prepared for this year's fire season

The 2024 fire season has officially begun, but Northern Ontario isn’t out of the woods yet.
forest fire cl 415 tanker (2)
file photo

DRYDEN – According to Chris Marchand, fire information officer with the Aviation Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES), the recent snowfall has eased concerns about potential fires in parts of Northern Ontario.

However, Marchand explained there is no way to tell if this latest winter storm will have any effect in the long term.

Marchand noted that “every fire season is highly variable and based on actual weather trends that develop throughout the fire season, as well as the type of fuel on the landscape that a fire is burning in.

“Eventually the moderating effects of this snowfall on that spring fire hazard will wear off as the snow cover retreats. But we'll be monitoring that across the region as we move more into April.”

In 2023, there were a total of 743 confirmed wildland fires within the province of Ontario and 476 wildlife fires in the Northwest region that affected 324,633 hectares of land.

Marchand said the longer the snow stays in areas with open fields, along transpiration corridors and pipelines, it will help elevate the concern of the AFFES. But Marchand assured the public they are prepared to respond to fires on any landscape.

“As a precaution, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry planned for early spring fires this season by proactively bringing some fire rangers and support staff back early into March to address any potential needs arising from the spring hazard,” acknowledged Marchand.

Although he does admit the AFFSE are not at a full complement, Marchand stated the AFFES is staffed and ready to fight any potential threat that may arise in the coming months.

“The seven fire management headquarters are focused on hiring, training and on-boarding new staff to ensure that we are ready to respond to fire calls. Our recruitment and hiring continues into the month of May with the deadline for fire ranger applications being April 15,” said Marchand.

Clint Fleury

About the Author: Clint Fleury

Clint Fleury is a web reporter covering Northwestern Ontario and the Superior North regions.
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