Raging forest fires have forced over 1,300 people to leave their homes in eight northwestern Ontario communities while firefighters continued to battle the hundreds of forest fires on Friday. According to Ontario fire officials the situation is the worst that they have ever encountered at this time of year over the past two decades.
People with smoke vulnerability like children, the elderly, the infirm and pregnant women have been asked to leave the First Nations communities of Deer Lake, Keewaywin, Gull Lake, Sandy Lake, North Spirit Lake, Aroland, Pays Plat and Long Lake No. 58.
The flames from around 290 fires, although not threatening to any of the communities on Friday, its smoke was thick enough to be considered a risk for many residents.
Firefighting crews, exhausted, were nursed by Ont. Nurses and paramedics who were sent to base camps to monitor the health of the firefighters.
Firefighters from Saskatchewan arrived on Thursday to help out, while others from Alberta were expected to arrive on Friday.
Several hundred people of the evacuated communities have gone to the municipality of Greenstone, while others are lodging at hotels in Thunder Bay.
The fires have been burning in a swath of land north of Lake Superior between Atikokan and Nipigon with most of the fires initiated by lightning strikes. At least 13,000 hectares have been damaged.
With insufficient crews to fight the fire around 100 fires have been left to burn.
With the forecast not giving much hopes of rain, the situation appears unlikely to be resolved soon.
Debbie MacLean, an information officer with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources said, "There are more fires burning than there are resources to fight them"
With over half of their crews were made up of students who have returned to school fire fighting crews are having a difficult time keeping in pace with the fire situation.
Provincial officials have restricted access on several roads in the Nipigon and Thunder Bay districts because of the current fire situation.