Thursday, May 20, 2010

Forget about your 'May Run' campfire

(NOTE: all stories and photos are now being posted again on our regular news website: ) CLICK ANY PHOTO TO SEE IT LARGER!

Timmins (May 20, 2010)- Well known Timmins-born comedian Derek Edwards likes to make fun of his May Run days in Timmins by joking about how he and his friends would try to jump over the camp fire.
They won't be doing that anytime soon around Timmins. There is a complete fire ban in place by the city and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
The MNR Eastern Fire Region headquarters today issued a Restricted
Fire Zone order for Northeastern Ontario. That takes in everything from the French River northward to James Bay. It includes May Run campfires in the Timmins area.
"The Restricted Fire Zone will be in effect until further notice. All burning permits are suspended and all open air burning, including campfires, is prohibited. Within a Restricted Fire Zone, campers can still use portable gas or propane cook stoves for cooking and warmth but should exercise extreme caution," said the order from the MNR
There were 11 new fires confirmed in the East Fire Region on May 19. Timmins district had two fires of note. Timmins 7 west of Timmins was actioned by MNR FireRangers, and MNR waterbombers, said a statement from the MNR today. Ten MNR FireRanger crews are committed to suppressing the fire. The fire is approximately 125 hectares in size. Timmins 9, near Schumacher, is estimated at 83 hectares and required the evacuation of 10 nearby residents. The fire was responded to by both MNR and Timmins Fire Department. Four CL-415 waterbombers worked the fire until dark on the evening of May 19 and aggressive suppression will continues. There are two other fires in the Timmins district that were reported on May 19, both are less than two hectares and there are no problems anticipated said the MNR
Residents are reminded that if found responsible for a forest fire, they can be charged under the Forest Fires Prevention Act and/or be liable for the costs of suppressing the fire. This cost can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, said the MNR.
So far this year in the East Fire Region, there have been 136 fires burning 900 hectares.
310-FIRE (3473) is the new, toll-free emergency forest fire reporting phone number across northern Ontario. Early detection and reporting are essential to quickly managing forest fires. Having one number will make it easier and more efficient for Ontarians to report forest fire emergencies. The number will operate north of the French and Mattawa Rivers.

Timmins Nine forest fire flares up again

Water tanker planes and at least one helicopter were back on the job this evening over the fire known as Timmins Nine, the forest fire east of Schumacher. Smoke and flames were spotted by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources spotter aircraft early Thursday evening and two tankers and a helicopter began dropping water in an area near one of the hydro line corridors between Schumacher and South Porcupine.
The problem didn’t last long as the water bombing effort lasted only about an hour. At least three MNR forest fire fighting crews were on the ground in the area, also doing fire suppression.
By about 8:30 p.m., MNR crews began pulling back and the water tankers were sent back to the Timmins airport.
The helicopter returned briefly to a remote area east of Timmins where the MNR fire crews have set up a base camp.
The camp is an area where the helicopter can refuel, as can the MNR heli-attack crews who are actually camped out there, living in sleeping bags and tents.
As MNR official explained that the fire teams are kept at the base camp, on alert in case they’re needed quickly for any further outbreak of fire.
This story and the photos are also posted on our regular Timmins Times news website: where the photo server problems experienced on May 19 have been fixed.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More photos of forest fire emergency near Schumacher

All photos on this Blog are copyright Len Gillis and The Timmins Times.

Timmins slammed by three forest fires

The skies over Timmins were heavy with smoke Wednesday as at least three significant forest fires flared up in the middle of the afternoon and continued into the evening. The first and worst of the fires occurred just south and east of Schumacher in the heavily wooded and hilly area near the Vipond Road. It was just before 3:00 p.m. that grey white smoke could be seen rising above the trees. Twenty minutes later, the smoke was turning light brown and black as the fire began consuming more fuel in the forest.
Another fire broke out in the Kamiskotia area in the near west end of Timmins and then another fire occurred further west in the area of the Montcalm Mine Road, north of Highway 101.
The fires put a huge demand on the resources of the Timmins Fire Department as men and equipment struggled to get anywhere close to the fast moving and quickly growing fire near Schumacher. Firefighters hooked up several hundred feet of what they call forestry hoses to try to put out flames on the edge of the blaze.
For fire chief Mike Pintar who was on the front lines it quickly became apparent that manpower wasn't going to control the situation. The fire was "crowning", as flames raced from treetop to treetop.
Just before 4:00 p.m. Pintar sent an urgent request to the Ministry of Natural Resource to have flying water tankers assigned to the Schumacher fire.
Water tankers were in the region working on fires north of Sudbury and Capreol.
By 4:05 p.m. Pintar was on the line to the MNR demanding water tankers since the fire was by that time in sight of several homes along Gold Mine Road (the Back Road).
Within minutes and MNR helicopter was overhead assessing the fire and before 4:30 p.m. one Twin Otter water bomber began working the fire.
By that time, Timmins Police has closed the back road since there was heavy smoke evident, and also to make it easier for the emergency vehicles to move back and forth.
While that effort was underway, it became apparent that the two other fires were flaring up in the west and being pushed along by heavy smoke.
At the same time, when it looked as if the fire was going to cross the Hydro One power line east of Schumacher, the decision was made to cut the power. A Hydro One worker explained that fire, smoke and live high voltage lines do not mix and that it could result in live wires falling to the ground. (continued...) (Click Photos to see larger size)

There was a concern for several minutes that homeowners living along the Gold Mine Road would have to be evacuated if the wind kept blowing more southerly, than in an easterly direction. At one point, Chief Pintar notified the Goldcorp Dome Mine that if the smoke build-up were going to continue, the mine would have to be evacuated. Although preparations were made, home and mine evacuations were not carried out, according to Pintar, except for a couple of residents with pre-existing medical conditions.
Just after 5:00 p.m. it became apparent that more water tanker aircraft were assigned to Timmins. Four of the Canadair CL415 water bombers set up a carousel approach on Porcupine Lake, swooping down, scooping up six thousand litres of lake water, lifting off and heading back to the fire.
Two of the tankers were from Ontario. The other two were from Quebec. Dozens of area residents, armed with cameras, stood along the shores of Porcupine Lake snapping photos.
After an hour of regular water bombing this way, it became evident the tankers were having an effect as the smoke plume on the horizon over Schumacher diminished greatly.
The tankers kept up the effort but soon devoted their attention to the fires in the west end. Many Timmins residents admit being momentarily startled by the massive low-flying yellow aircraft.
By 6:00 p.m. it appeared that the fire was settling down, but still burning in an easterly direction. For the most part, it seems the worst of the fire is over or at least subsiding.
Timmins Fire Department, Timmins Police and the Ministry of Natural Resources have set up a joint command post on Vipond Road.
At 7:00 p.m. Chief Pintar and the MNR took to the air to check on the situation and come up with a plan of attack. Pintar has suggested the local fire crews will have to be on duty throughout the night in case the wind causes any dangerous flare-ups.