NEWS
07/17/2011 11:35 EDT | Updated 09/16/2011 05:12 EDT

Forest Fires Raging In Northern Ontario Threaten First Nations Communities

Flickr: lasconchasfire3

THE CANADIAN PRESS -- Soaring temperatures and tinder dry conditions are fuelling dozens of forest fires in Northern Ontario.

The Ministry of Natural resources says there are 85 active fires in the province — 80 of them in the remote northwest region.

A Restricted Fire Zone is in effect to help reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires. But with little rain forecast for the region, and the winds expected to pick up, the ministry predicts many of the fires will continue to grow, creating smoke issues in some communities.

The First Nations Chiefs and Emergency Management Ontario, along with federal and provincial agencies are planning for potential evacuations. Some 111 residents from Cat Lake were evacuated to Matachewan on Friday due to smoke concerns and power outages.

On the ground, more than 2,000 Ontario personnel working the firelines are being aided by 360 fire staff from British Columbia. In the air, more than 40 aircraft, including 14 waterbombers and 13 initial attack helicopters are involved in the firefight.

At least five fires are also burning in northeastern Ontario, with more expected to develop over the weekend.