The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says after a slow summer season, northwestern Ontario’s forest fire risk is rising.

Conservation Officers with the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services branch of the MNRF say there are now four forest fires burning in the Northwest Region, with one considered not under control, one being held, one under control and one under observation.

They include Kenora fire #10 on an island on Lake of the Woods, about 15 kilometres south of Kenora, as well as Kenora fire #9 near Malachi Lake, 39 km northwest of Kenora. Both fires are listed at 0.1 hectares in size.

The MNRF says the wildland fire hazard is currently listed as high across the region, with areas of extreme fire hazard in the Red Lake and Nipigon areas. Residents are reminded to always use caution when performing any outdoor burning.

The MNRF notes this year has seen a drastic reduction in forest fire activity in northwestern Ontario – especially compared to last year, when the province saw a record 1180 fires reported that burned well over 770,000 hectares.

The previous record for forest fire activity was set in 1995 at 713,914 hectares. Ontario is reported to have spent upwards of $239 million in emergency funds to battle forest fires in 2021.

The biggest fire in the region was Kenora fire #51 which was burning through the Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, 120 kilometres north of Kenora, and was listed at over 200,000 hectares in size. It was considered out of control for most of the summer, causing evacuations.