Homes, cottages evacuated in Muskoka as brush fire rages
Two separate forest fires fueled by hot and dry conditions have forced more than 50 residents from their homes in Ontario’s cottage country.
Evacuations were ordered Tuesday in the Milford Bay area of Muskoka as a brush fire over six hectares in size burned out of control in a populated area.
“We have permanent homes, cottages, it had the ability to really spread,” Muskoka Lakes Mayor Alice Murphy told CP24. “It was working its way down the ridge and came within a couple hundred yards of peoples’ homes.”
Murphy said the fire was contained for a time, but the Ministry of Natural Resources said that the fire was not considered under control.
Firefighters were sill on scene at the blaze, which appears to have started at a scenic lookout spot on Huckleberry Rock, according to Murphy.
The blaze was being jointly fought by four area fire departments, lead by the Ontario Provincial Police and Muskoka Lakes fire.
Two water bombers from the Ministry of Natural Resources were also sent to the scene of the blaze and had to return for a second round as winds picked up, shortly before 5 p.m.
“Winds have wrecked havoc at the scene and have caused flare ups at a number of spots,” OPP Ins. Ed Medved told CP24.
Meanwhile, a second forest fire burned Tuesday to the north, near Parry Sound, after a morning house fire on Shebeshekong Road spread to the tinder-dry forest.
Parry Sound OPP Staff Sgt. Ron Campbell said conditions were very dry and the wind was blowing from the west as the fire spread, forcing the evacuation of several residences on the Shawanaga First Nation.
Volunteer firefighter Edith Pawis said high winds made it difficult to fight the fire.
“With the velocity of the wind today, it kind of took the fire and ran with it,” she said.
A propane tank exploded in the home, which sent debris scattering into the surrounding area and started the forest fire, Pawis said.
Shebeshekong Road was closed from Highway 69 as a result of that fire.
The blazes come as much of Ontario has been experiencing unseasonably hot, dry weather.
The dry conditions have prompted either full or partial fire bans in many Ontario provincial parks.
The Muskoka Lakes area is currently under a fire ban, as well.