HENVEY INLET FIRST NATION – A fire broke out at a Henvey Inlet First Nation construction site July 18, starting a massive forest fire in the Parry Sound area of Ontario.
Crews were building a major wind turbine project at the site, one of the largest in the province, according to media reports. Reports also indicate crews were blasting rock and clearing land for the turbines despite a region-wide fire ban in effect.
It is unclear what started the fire and the investigation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is ongoing.
“We need to conduct an investigation before we determine the cause of the fire,” a media spokesperson told the Daily Commercial News in an email. “Parry Sound fire 33 is about 5,600 hectares in size. There was high humidity and scattered showers yesterday (July 24) so the fire didn’t grow. There has been ongoing ground and air attack on this fire. Eight helicopters were working on it yesterday. Fire fighters from Mexico are being assigned to the fire today to assist Ontario Fire Rangers as they work to suppress this fire.”
Work on the site is currently shut down commented a spokesperson from Pattern Energy Group, the developer of the Henvey Inlet project.
“Despite rumors and speculation, the cause of the fire is not known,” explained spokesperson Matt Dallas. “We are offering our full assistance with the MNRF as they conduct their investigation.”
Pattern Energy’s primary concern at this point in time is the health and safety of local residents and workers and containing the fire, he added.
“All of the Henvey Inlet First Nation members have been successfully evacuated,” said Dallas. “There haven’t been any major injuries related to Parry Sound Fire 33. We are working closely with emergency responders and the MNRF and have offered housing for evacuees and resources to assist with evacuation, including helicopters.”
The MNRF is also urging area residents to be cautious.
“We ask residents to remain vigilant and respect the Restricted Fire Zone prohibiting all open fires in areas south of the French River, including Parry Sound, from Georgian Bay east to the Quebec border, including Algonquin Provincial Park and from Renfrew north to Mattawa,” said the MNRF in the emailed statement.
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