THE MUSKOKAN - Milford Bay residents are back in their homes following Tuesday’s brush fire.
A firefighter sprays down a burning pine tree Tuesday afternoon in Milford Bay.
Photo by Roland Cilliers
The fire, which started Tuesday morning, burned through six hectares, caused the evacuation of roughly 50 homes and left the Huckleberry Rock site scorched and blackened. Milford Bay residents were allowed back into their homes and cottages at roughly 9:30 p.m.
Richard Hayes, fire chief of Muskoka Lakes township, said Wednesday morning firefighters haven’t stopped working at the site since the fire started up.
“We’re still there. We had a crew there all night just to keep an eye on things,” Hayes said. “Doing bush firefighting at night is very dangerous. We protected the perimeter. We got the perimeter under control and protected it and then just left a skeleton crew there for the night just to keep an eye on things. Then, we were back there early this morning.”
No one was hurt in the fire and no structures were damaged. The fire burned between Highway 118 and Milford Bay Road. Though the highway was not closed down, emergency personnel did ask the public to avoid the area if at all possible.
On Tuesday afternoon, two water bombers from the Ministry of Natural Resources were called in to assist with extinguishing the fire. Roughly 30 firefighters were on scene at Milford Bay.
The fire started near the scenic lookout point of Huckleberry Rock Trail and quickly spread through the brush.
Ed Medved, of the Ontario Provincial Police, said it appears the fire was not the result of natural causes.
“There’s nothing to suggest it was anything but a human factor in terms of the cause,” Medved said. “Whether it was a cigarette butt or who knows. There were certainly some hikers in the area, but we don’t have anything to connect them to the fire itself - that’s strictly speculation,” Medved said.
The lookout point is a popular spot, and the area is littered with beer bottles and other garbage. Brush fires have been known to start from refracted light off of broken glass.
Muskoka is presently under a complete fire ban which means no open air burning or fireworks of any kind. Despite the fire ban, which has been in effect for several days now, there have been multiple fire complaints in the region.
A fire complaint came in to the Foots Bay Station at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday. At that point, fire crews were still extinguishing hot spots at the Milford Bay fire.
Hayes said that the Milford Bay fire demonstrates how important it is to heed fire bans.
“What seems to be a little thing can become a very, very big thing very fast. These fires, what were noticing, is that their going very deep and travelling very fast. It’s important to heed the warnings and that includes fireworks as well,” said Hayes.
Although rain was in the forecast for the latter part of the week, area residents and visitors are advised to check the fire rating before burning or fireworks as it may take more than a few rainy days before the ban is lifted.