Residents return to Muskoka homes after fire forces evacuation
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012 3:02PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012 6:53PM EDT
Homeowners near Milford Bay in the Muskoka Lakes region have returned to their homes and cottages Wednesday after an out-of-control forest fire prompted an evacuation one day earlier.
Though residents in about 50 homes were permitted to return, firefighters continued their work to contain a fire in the region, which was thought to have started near a popular lookout and hiking trail.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson Michael Ward said that firefighters were working in was still about four acres in size, as of Wednesday morning.
Many of the firefighters who battled the blaze were volunteers who worked through the night to extinguish the fire, ensuring that no homes were damaged.
By Wednesday afternoon, crews were preparing to use thermal cameras to identify remaining hot spots.
Even after the blaze was mostly out, the risk of fire in the region will remain high until it gets some much-needed rain.
“It’s just very dry,” said Muskoka Lakes fire Chief Richard Hayes, picking up a handful of soil near the site of the fire. “You can just crumble this.”
There is a fire ban in effect in the area where the fire started.
Hayes said the cause of the fire is still unknown.
“It could have been anything from a discarded cigarette, to a piece of glass that happens to be left on the ground,” he said.
Meanwhile, up to 200 members of the Shawanaga First Nation, north of Milford Bay, were allowed to return to their homes Wednesday afternoon after firefighters contained a fire covering about 1.5-hectares in the community near Parry Sound.
That fire started in a home Tuesday morning and quickly spread to the tinder-dry forest.
While high winds and dry conditions hampered fire-fighting efforts on the Shawanaga First Nation Tuesday, Ward said the fire had been contained by Wednesday and was not expected to expand outside of its present boundaries.
Still, some residents were wary of returning to their homes with the threat of fire still high.
Ministry of Natural Resources water bombers were used to help contain both fires.
The danger of forest fires remains high throughout much of the province, as unseasonably hot conditions have been compounded by low amounts of rainfall.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, so far there have been 1,107 forest fires in 2012. This compares to just 637 forest fires in all of 2011.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Colin D’Mello and files from The Canadian Press