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article imageOut-of-control Ontario fire closes in on Trans-Canada Highway

By Karen Graham     Jul 30, 2018 in Environment
The largest forest fire in northeastern Ontario is continuing to grow despite aerial and ground-level efforts to stop its spread.
The so-called Parry Sound 33 forest fire crossed a stretch of CN railroad tracks on Sunday and is now about 6 kilometers (3.73 miles) miles from a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Officials with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said on Monday the fire has grown to encompass an area of 82 square kilometers (32 square miles).
"We have seen some growth on Parry Sound 33,” ministry spokesperson Shayne McCool told CTV’s Your Morning.
However you look at it, it definitely has been a record year for forest fires in Ontario. McCool says this year's fire season has been fueled by lightning strikes and the lack of rain, creating dry conditions. So far this year, there have been 831 wildfires in Ontario, compared to an annual average of 511 over the past 10 years.
The ministry notes that of the 39 active forest fires burning in northeastern Ontario as of Monday morning, 14 — including the Parry Sound 33 fire — are burning out of control. The other 25 are either under control, being held or being allowed to burn for ecological purposes.
The cause of the Parry Sound 33 fire has not yet been determined, however, the majority of the fires have been sparked by lightning. “Dry conditions in the forested areas have caused those fires to be ignited fairly easily,” McCool said.
Trans-Canada Highway concerns
As the Parry Sound fire expanded its reach toward Canada's key transportation route, there were fears southwesterly winds being experienced Monday morning would hasten the fire's movement. "It certainly could impact visibility along the highway,” McCool said, adding that authorities would close the highway if smoke or fire led to a public safety concern.
On the east side of the highway sits Grundy Lake Provincial Park, right in the fire's path. On Sunday, some 800 campers were told to leave the park. Other provincial parks have also been put off-limits due to forest fires, as has the French River. Over 556 firefighters from across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are working to control and extinguish the fires.
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