So, the extraordinarily mild/warm and dry weather we've had here in Northeastern Ontario and Northern Michigan means that it's our turn to have a summer of extraordinarily high forest fire danger.
Here in Ontario, we've been under a Restricted Fire Zone order since 16 May, which prohibits all open burning.
On or about 20 May, somebody decided to start a campfire in a popular recreation area near Kirkland Lake anyway. That fire is now Kirkland Lake 8, currently the third-largest fire in the province. It's burned 2,326 hectares (about 5,800 acres), an area around 12km long and 2km wide (7½ x 1¼ mi), and got to within 3km/2mi of the town of Kirkland Lake before Fire Rangers put the brakes on it.
That's not even the biggest fire in the province. This distinction belongs to Timmins 9, seventeen times bigger at 39,518 ha (97,651 acres). The fire season is just getting started and we've already seen twice as many fires as an entire average year.
On the other side of the border in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the Duck Lake fire near Newberry and Tahquamenon Falls is at 21,694 acres (8,780 ha). If the winds shift the right way you can smell the smoke from here. It's about 50 miles (80 km) to the west of us.
With all this going on, surely there is no way somebody can fail to be aware of the extreme fire hazard that the current situation presents. However, police have been laying a steady trickle of charges against people starting campfires, bonfires, and the occasional fool who burns down a couple of houses.
Thanksfully, rain has fallen over the last day or so, so things seem to be improving. Kirkland Lake 8 is Being Held; enough progress has been made in Timmins for them to lift their state of emergency, and the fire crews working on the Duck Lake fire should be able to make good headway today on account of the improved weather.
The town of Kirkland lake has some dramatic photos up, courtesy of one Perry Kong. More under the cut.