Officials in Muskoka are seeing signs the potential for forest fires is increasing.
Over this past weekend, multiple fire services responded to rapid-growing grass and brush fires throughout Muskoka. With very little precipitation in the forecast, the Muskoka Fire Chiefs have increased the Forest Fire Danger Rating to high and will continue to monitor conditions.
The fires were caused by unattended and prohibited burning, and failure to fully extinguish campfires, according to Muskoka fire prevention officials.
“The Muskoka Fire Chiefs do not increase the fire danger rating to infringe on any resident’s enjoyment of outdoor fires, they do it to protect the residents of their communities from the increased risks of wildfires,” says Mike Peake, Fire Prevention Officer for Bracebridge Fire Department. “With high winds, low humidity, and little precipitation, these factors combine to dry out grass and forested areas allowing for the rapid spread and growth of fires”
The rise in the danger rating comes ahead of the May long weekend. Muskoka fire prevention officers are urging residents to take extreme caution when having outdoor fires. Make sure to check with local municipalities for burning times, and ensure adequate means of extinguishing a fire are on hand. “We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy their long weekend, including firefighters, so please be responsible when having fires this weekend,” added Peake.
The Muskoka Forest Fire Danger hotline is now operational; the public can make use of this hotline to ensure fire bans have not been declared. A fire ban can be implemented at any time when conditions create an increased threat of fire. The hotline number is 1-877-847-1577.