Northeastern Ontario remains in a state of emergency as the destructive forest fire in Temagami continues to blaze. Located about 100 kilometres north of North Bay, the lakeside municipality of Temagami is home to about 800 people. Temagami's Emergency Management Committee says that conditions have stabilized, but evacuation orders remain in place.
The fire was sparked by a strike of lightning, which hit a forest region just outside of the town on Sunday. The blaze erupted quickly, spreading throughout the area and inching closer to people's homes by the minute. As of yesterday, the fire was the size of about 25 football fields.
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, residents living between the areas of Finlayson Point Provincial Park Road, Jessie Lake, and Lake Temagami Access Road remain on evacuation alert.
@ONforestfires #OCOA thanks all of the #MNRF fire fighters, pilots, ground crew and #ConservationOfficers helping fight or provide other community services for the #Temagami fire. pic.twitter.com/OEYMNNOLhX— Ontario OCOA (@OntarioOCOA) July 10, 2018
#MNR Water Bombers working on an active fire south of #Temagami today. Some areas were evacuated for #PublicSafety. Please stay clear and consider alternate routes through the area. ^sh pic.twitter.com/CJuBz8EvqW— OPP North East (@OPP_NER) July 9, 2018
So far, about 20 homes have been evacuated. Others remain on evacuation alert, and residents should be ready to leave at a moments notice. Provincial parks have also been evacuated, and around 450 campers have safely made it out of the area.
The town's ministry spokesperson said that the current weather conditions are the perfect storm for forest fires. “There’s high temperatures, dry conditions and a lot of thunderstorms,” she said.
Around 400 firefighters were dispatched to the area, and continue to fight the flames that are ravaging the northeastern part of the province. Water bombers are flying over the area around the clock.
EVACUATION NEAR TEMAGAMI due to fire. #OPP from #Temagami and #TemiskamingShores ASSISTING MNRF. MNRF mandatory evacuation affecting area. #Hwy11 remains open however fire conditions may cause closures. If travelling consider delaying or using alternate routes. ^cb pic.twitter.com/ZosTce9BM3— OPP North East (@OPP_NER) July 8, 2018
The Ontario Provincial Police released a statement on Twitter, urging evacuees are to travel northbound on Highway 11 to remain at a safe distance from the fire. Residents say that the fire essentially exploded out of nowhere. In a matter of two hours, the fire went from a harmless-looking puff of white smoke to a raging blaze.
As of right now, no fire-related injuries have been reported. One resident is said to have suffered an asthma attack.
Forest Fires in Temagami and Elk Lake... Temiskaming Shores is experiencing the smoke clouds but we’re safe. pic.twitter.com/0TLZ4rzEeJ— Melissa Yerlitz (@mhyerlitz) July 10, 2018
According to local news reports, here is the latest update - "Acting Temagami Mayor Dan O’Mara says due to a concern that the fire situation can change very quickly, all existing Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Alerts are to remain in place."
The wildfire season in northern Ontario has already surpassed last year's record, with over 500 fires so far this year and only 143 in 2017.