Ontario wildfires continue as minister reassures public province is prepared

Click to play video: 'Active forest fires rise in Ontario'
Active forest fires rise in Ontario
RELATED: Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec have seen large swaths of land and even homes consumed by fire. Ontario has seen active forest fires increase, particularly in the province’s northeast. As Shallima Maharaj reports, officials are on high alert. – Jun 5, 2023

On a day when smoke from forest fires in Ontario and Quebec hung in the air of Toronto, the province is reassuring people that its crews are prepared even as one agency rates Ontario’s status as “assistance required.”

A report by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), an agency which coordinates Canada’s interprovincial fire responses, said 25 fires were out of control in the province on Monday. More than 20,000 hectares were on fire.

The CIFFC has rated Ontario’s preparedness on Monday as very high danger, with a very high fire load. It described the province’s resources levels as “assistance required” and its ability to respond to resource requests for staff from the central agency as “poor.”

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park, natural resources and forestry minister Graydon Smith said his government was “taking action to make sure people in communities are safe.”

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He spoke as wildfires in Ontario raged.

Smith said he was confident in Ontario’s response — and would call in other firefighters if necessary.

“We’ve got a great number of crews, waterbombers, helicopters here in Ontario and an emergency centre that coordinates everything,” he said.

The province’s wildfire season is already more severe than 2022.

According to the report, 169 fires have been recorded in Ontario so far, compared to 79 this time last year. A total of 33,945 hectares have been burned compared to 2,444 by June of 2022.

“I don’t want to speculate on what the rest of the summer looks like at this point … we’ll have to see what mother nature gives us,” Smith told reporters.

Click to play video: 'Extreme fire hazards in Ontario’s cottage country'
Extreme fire hazards in Ontario’s cottage country

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