MAGNETAWAN – Firefighters shot into action after a grass fire got out of control and headed for the forest on Friday afternoon.
BATTLE FROM ABOVE.
According to Magnetawan Fire Chief Dean Butticci, a resident on Highway 124 was burning in a barrel when the fire got into the grass and began to spread into the forest.
“It didn’t get crowning in the tops of the trees. It did have some trees burning in some spots three or four feet up the trees,” he said.
The firefighters had to contend with swamp and winds.
“We were just one ridge away to getting into Jackson Road and the houses there,” he said. “The wind was moving so fast I believe our only chance was to bring in the water bombers.”
He says the wind picked up and the fire began to advance quickly. He says with the hilly terrain the fire would whip up the hill.
“If we had went over the depth of another set of hills we would have been in some residences,” he said.
However, this was not the case. They continued to monitor the fire’s progress and it was not deemed necessarily to evacuate the area homes.
“We had been up and down the road. If we couldn’t advance then I would have evacuated them. As it stood they were good to stand by,” he said.
According to Butticci, the blaze was estimated to have impacted about 10 hectares (nearly 25 acres) and came about 150 feet from the highway and spread across seven additional properties. No buildings were impacted by the blaze.
Dispatch received the 911 from the resident at 12:17 p.m. on April 6, concerned that the fire was heading toward the house. The department was on scene applying water by 12:30 p.m.
The fire progressed and Butticci called in for water and manpower support from the Burk’s Falls and District Fire Department as well as the Whitestone Fire Department.
By 12:54 p.m., Butticci activated the Ministry of Natural Resources who deployed a water bomber from North Bay.
Once the decision was made to involved the MNR, Whitestone stood down.
The water bomber dumped their first load at 1:54 p.m.
“When they bring a water bomber in they actually have two aircraft. There is the water bomber itself and then they have another plane that goes above the water bomber and directs the water bomber,” said Butticci.
The plane was collecting water from Ahmic Harbour and dropped eight loads of water over the blaze.
The ministry also flew in a ground crew by helicopter with equipment deployed by truck. The MNR crew remained on standby.
“Fortunately we didn’t have to use them. We were able to use the manpower from Magnetawan and Burk’s Falls,” he said. “We had a really good response from Burk’s Falls. They brought their pumps.”
The fire was cleared around 7:30 p.m. that night.
“We were just monitoring it at that point,” he said. “We stayed right until dark and we were at it at daylight again.
He says there were about five hot spots in total and they had to go into the bush to cut some trees down.
“We were all the next day washing hose and all the next day repacking. It was noon Sunday where we were basically to the point where we could have another full response,” he said.
Butticci says the fire is still under investigation, however he did say that a daytime burning restriction was in place. He says he does not yet know the costs associated with battling this particular blaze. The Office of the Fire Marshal is not involved in the investigation.