Forest fire in Oliver Paipoonge had people ready to evacuate their homes
Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis says it was fortunate the wind pushed the flames in the right direction.
OLIVER PAIPOONGE, Ont.  — A forest fire that erupted suddenly in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday kept some residents of Oliver Paipoonge on edge for hours.

The blaze broke out in the extreme northern section of the rural municipality in the Saari Road area approximately seven kilometres southeast of the Highway 102/Highway 11-17 junction.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's provincial database initially indicated the fire burned an area of 120 hectares, but on Wednesday morning this had been amended to 97 hectares.

Mayor Lucy Kloosterhuis told TBNewswatch the Oliver Paipoonge fire department was first alerted to the fire at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

She said the MNRF initially dispatched a helicopter, but quickly called in three waterbombing aircraft including two that are on loan to Ontario from Newfoundland & Labrador.

Several fire ranger crews were also assigned to the fire.

Kloosterhuis said the fire "isn't totally out but it has been contained," however the MNRF database still designates it as "not under control."

Showers are forecast for the Thunder Bay area for the next several days.

The mayor described the situation on Tuesday as tense.

She believes the fact that no homes were lost in the fire was largely due to the wind.

"We were very fortunate. I did sit on my deck last night hoping the wind would keep blowing the same way. It was coming from the south, which pushed the flames north, and that's uninhabited for quite a ways before it hits Highway 102."

Kloosterhuis had spoken with residents who were ready to leave on a moment's notice.

"They had been told by either police or the fire department to get ready, and if they did come back that meant 'Get in your car and go.'  They had important papers and stuff packed in their vehicles."

No cause for the fire has been established so far.

Six firefighting crews and two helicopters remained on the scene Wednesday dealing with hot spots.


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