Cloud cover and high humidity continued to aid firefighters working to get the enormous Parry Sound 33 forest fire under control on Wednesday.
The fire, which has now officially been burning for more than two weeks, is covering 11,185 hectares in the province’s northeastern region and is still considered “not under control.”
According to an update provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on Aug. 1, Parry Sound 33 was one of 49 active forest fires in the northeast. Of those fires, 21 were considered “not yet under control,” while the other 28 were either “being held,” “under control” or “being observed.”
The ministry says Parry Sound 33 is still approximately five kilometres west of Highway 69, and less than one kilometre south of the Pickerel River near the CN trestle bridge on the west side of the highway.
WATCH: Northern Ontario communities on alert as massive wildfire burns nearby. Shallima Maharaj reports.
According to officials, the fire was less active on Wednesday, and thanks to high humidity and cloud cover, firefighters were able to make “excellent progress” on the eastern side of the fire, as winds from the east pushed the fire west.
The MNRF says crews are now working on the areas that have passed over the CN line from the Pickerel River south. Additionally, the MNRF says work continues to protect buildings and infrastructure, with additional protection added in the Key and French River areas.
However, despite the more favourable weather, Parry Sound 33 still forced the Municipality of Killarney to issue an evacuation order on Wednesday. Residents in Travers, Allen, Struthers, Kilpatrick, Bigwood (including Hartley Bay Road), a portion of Mowat, the unsurveyed area, 14 Mile Island and French River Provincial Park received evacuation orders.
Similarly, the Municipality of French River issued an evacuation alert for the Alban area west of the high-powered hydro lines on Highway 64 on Monday.
One of the residents who received an evacuation alert is Ron MacIntyre, who moved to Alban for the summer to flip a cottage.
He says on Monday evening he and his neighbours received an evacuation notice from the Municipality of French River.
Now, all packed up and ready to leave at a moment’s notice, MacIntyre says he is awaiting word that he will have to abandon his home as the fire inches closer.
“All the streets around me have been evacuated already. Across the street and everything south of me. They just park the fire trucks at the end of the streets and when you try to go home they say nope, sorry, or you have 24 hours to get your stuff and that’s it,” he said. “And who knows for how long?”
According to MacIntyre, the short reprieve from the hot and dry weather aiding firefighters appears to be ending.
“Yesterday was a really good break, but today it’s right back to how it’s been previously. It’s hot and there are no clouds today and the wind is changing back,” he said.
MacIntyre says as of Thursday afternoon, there was no smoke at his home, however, he was beginning to be able to smell it again. “Probably by five or six o’clock the smoke will be back in my direction,” he said.
His home, located in the south end of the town, is closest in proximity to the encroaching flames, and with pets depending on him, he says he is prepared to leave, should conditions worsen. “I’m out of here if we get word. … But at the same time, you don’t want to leave your house early. It’s hard to decide.”
Should he need to evacuate, MacIntyre says he has several places he could go.
“I’ve had an overwhelming amount of friends and family offering places to stay, which is really nice,” he said.
However, like all residents, he’s hoping it doesn’t come to that. “I think we’re all in the same boat. No one wants to leave,” he said.
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