Crews from across the country and from Mexico, America and Australia continued to cut down dozens of raging fires in northeastern Ontario on Sunday, after evacuation orders left property owners uncertain of whether their homes and businesses would survive the flames for them to come back to. The number of fires has been upped to seventy.
Provincial police issued a statement Sunday saying the largest fire in the area -- known as "Parry Sound 33" -- had grown to more than 5,000 hectares in size and was "not yet under control."
The blaze prompted mandatory evacuation orders for many homes that are only accessible by boat on Saturday, several days after it was discovered people could be stranded on the hundreds of islands in Northern Ontario.
Police said those who could access their properties by road were subject to a "12-hour notice of evacuation order" as of Sunday evening.
"Our business is still standing, but that could change at a moment's notice," he said. "It's extremely stressful because not only is it my home, it's my place of business."
He noted that the marina is one of the only access points to the mainland from campgrounds.
Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources said the orders and alerts apply to properties between the western and northern borders of French River Provincial Park, east to Highway 69, and as far south as the Key River's south shore, including people on both shores of the French and Pickerel rivers and Hartley Bay.
Parry Sound 33 is one of about 70 fires burning in the region, with 20 of them completely out of control.
Firefighters and equipment have poured in from across Canada, the United States, Mexico and other countries to help Ontario-based crews. Five waterbombers were aiding hard-pressed ground crews in their struggle to contain the flames. The fire grew exponentially out of control.
Most evacuees are seasonal cottage-goers or campers who have fled to hotels in Sudbury, or have gone home, said Palmer, who is also seeking refuge in the nearby city.
The fires have been helped along by hot, dry conditions combined with lightning strikes and blustery winds fuelling -- and often igniting -- the flames. Unrelenting heat and a marked lack of rain have dried the forests into tinder just waiting for combustion.
People in the French River and Britt, in the Parry Sound district, are looking to evacuate their animals due to the smoke, Palmer said.
"You never know, you may not have any smoke right now, but in an hour from now, you could get smoked out," he said.
"We're hoping that we can help other farms, or other homes, save a few animals," he said. "If we can help other people who are impacted, I really hope that people out here follow suit."
Firefighters hope people get their animals out early before a possible evacuation order.
"Everything is very, very dry. We haven't had much rain at all," one fireman said. " This leads to new fires starting every single day."
An hour earlier, someone's home stood on this spot.
Proof that these fires can spread very quickly.
Please take no chances. Don't linger.