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Fire worries Shawanaga man as construction continues on wind farm line

SHAWANAGA FIRST NATION – Noble Boucher worries construction on the Henvey Inlet Wind power line behind his home is going to start a wild fire as Key River-area forests continue to burn.

“I hardly slept last night because my concern of possible fires starting, and the bush line comes right to the house,” he said.

It’s a fear shared by the Georgian Bay Association.

Tuesday evening the GBA asked Premier Doug Ford and the minister of natural resources and forestry, “to call a halt to construction work that might cause further fires on the extensive new Hydro line associated with this wind farm project.”

On the weekend the Key River fire forced the evacuation of the French River Provincial Park, homes in the Key River area and Henvey Inlet First Nation.

Part of the Henvey Inlet Wind project is building a transmission line from the farm to Seguin Township, where it will connect to the provincial power grid. And work on that grid is seen to continue while fire ratings in the municipalities it passes through continue to be listed as high and extreme, and as the province extended its restricted fire zone throughout West Parry Sound.

Boucher noted the tinder-dry conditions at his home, where tracked vehicles are being used on the line that could, he believes, act as a flint if they strike a rock.

GBA executive director Rupert Kindersley pointed to the damage already caused by the Key River fire and the number of brush fires already burning in northern Ontario.

“We want common sense to prevail because there’s enough for the province to deal with up there; they’re stretched already, let’s not start any more,” said Kindersley.

Fire chiefs in Seguin or McDougall have no concerns with construction along the transmission line continuing.

As of July 24 the Key River fire, one of 55 in the northeast part of Ontario, sat at 5,612 hectares in size and remained listed by the province as “not under control.”

Calls were placed to Henvey Wind partner Pattern Energy, the Henvey Wind CEO, Henvey Inlet First Nation Chief Wayne McQuabbie and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. No responses were received by 12 noon Wednesday, July 25.