Fire in the Park, 1992

Photos: Tony Woolhouse, 

Former Fire Ranger

Map: 1992 Temagami fire

From June 12 to 20 fire burned in the heart of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Wilderness Park, at the confluence of the Grays and Lady Evelyn Rivers. Fortunately, it was prior to the main canoeing season, but during a high-extreme fire-hazard rating. The risk of fire was high enough that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had banned open fires.

One hundred and fifty-six firefighters fought the fire, known as Temagami 5, with support from seven helicopters, and two water bombers with a "bird dog," or spotter plane, from the Northwest Territories. The most dangerous work fell to the attack crews that were dropped by helicopter on June 15. They set up nine camps around the perimeter with a three- or four-person crew in each and stayed for eight days. Temperatures dropped to record-breaking lows on June 20, reaching a high of only 4.4 C. That night the firefighters were helped by a miraculous three inches of snow, effectively ending the fire after burning 771 hectares. On June 22 after mopping up, the helicopters took the attack crews out. 

The cause was determined to be an unattended campfire on McGiffin Lake. As the lake is not on a canoe route, it is likely to have been fly-in anglers. 

Tony Woolhouse was a member one of the attack crews and took these dramatic photos. Fighting fires is hard, dangerous work. Our thanks to all the Ministry of Natural Resources' firefighters.

Photo: 1992 Temagami fire
Photo: 1992 Temagami fire, helicopter lowering hose

Helicopter (left) lowering hose on a ridge top.

Photo: 1992 Temagami fire

Ash on the ground (left) 

after the fire.

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