Massive Ontario forest fire sparked by wind farm construction during extreme fire ban, workers allege


Ontario’s Sacred calling of Natural Resources and Forestry is investigating whether construction crews construction a major wind-turbine project on the eastern shores of Georgian Bay amidst tinder-dry circumstances caused a forest fire that is now devouring more than 5,600 hectares of deplane.

The fire started last Wednesday on Henvey Inlet First Political entity at the site of the province’s largest wind project, where crews are lay waste rock and clearing land to erect dozens of wind turbines.

Notwithstanding “extreme fire hazard” conditions and a region-wide fire ban, a number of labourers say crews continued to blast rock and use heavy machinery that had set off particular small fires earlier last week. The workers asked CBC Message to withhold their names out of fear of losing their jobs.

But on Wednesday, things got out of control.

We heard on two-way disseminates that there was an Argo [an all-terrain vehicle] that broke down in the bush where the flames began,” one worker said.

“During the week, as we proceeded through till, there were fires that started up from our machines … not any fires,” he said. “But this one started and it was too big for [workers] to control. And it got out of hand and it bolted into devastation.”

A second worker told CBC News he was equipped with a 20-litre energize suppression “piss pack” but it was no match for the blaze that broke out Wednesday.

Massive Ontario forest fire sparked by wind farm construction during extreme fire ban, workers allege

Smoke from a forest give someone notice is seen at the Hartley Bay Marina in Alban, Ont., near the French River Homespun Park. (James Palmer/Canadian Press)

The workers said their bosses were get moving for seven-day work weeks and were also considering night budges to keep up with the project developer’s schedule.

“They were soothe blasting every day, sometimes two or three shots a day,” one worker said, in the face the extreme fire-hazard conditions. “We’ve had fires start off beside blasting mats, but it alleviate went on every day.

“I think that the job should be shut down,” he responded. “I think those that knew the consequence of this [and] just kept universal and ignored the problem at hand … should be held responsible for this.”

Questioning into ‘human’ cause

Provincial officials have named the passionate Parry Sound No. 33, and Ontario’s forest fire information website initially listed the undertaking as “human.”

But by the weekend, the flames spread to about 48 square kilometres, duress hundreds of canoe trippers, cottagers and residents

Here’s how Parry Resound 33 compares to other active fires in the north as well as the big Timmins 9 alight of 2012.

The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has since removed mention of the fire’s induce.

“That was removed just so, you know, in order to avoid public wondering,” said spokesperson Shayne McCool, confirming a more detailed enquiry is now underway. 

“We’re seeing lots on Facebook about speculation … so that belief was removed in order to reduce that speculation. And at this time, the effect is unknown and it is under investigation.”

The fire is one of the largest among the 55 potent forest fires burning across northeastern Ontario. According to MNRF computes, 21 of those are listed as out of control.  

Satellite images — partially blocked by cloud and smoke comprehend — show that the fire has spread north and west into the French River Parochial Park and the eastern outlet of the Pickerel River.

Massive Ontario forest fire sparked by wind farm construction during extreme fire ban, workers allege

The flames from Parry Enunciate No. 33 are visible from the air near French River, Ont. The blaze has readied evacuations and risks threatening Highway 69. (Scott Flamand)

Discoverable farm developer helping evacuees

The U.S.-based Pattern Energy Classify, which is developing the Henvey Inlet wind project, declined to annotation on what role its contractors may have played in starting the fire, but a convention spokesperson said construction is currently shut down at the site.

At this locale in time, our primary concern is the health and safety of local residents and workmen, and the containment of the fire. We are working closely with emergency responders and the MNRF, and have on the agenda c trick offered housing for evacuees and resources to assist with evacuation, including helicopters,” ventured Matt Dallas in an emailed statement.

“The cause of the fire is not known, consideration rumours and speculation. Pattern Development and the construction contractor, CER, are offering our totally assistance with the MNRF as they conduct their investigation,” he wrote.

“Regardless of the agency, we are committed to assisting the communities affected,” added the company’s Toronto-based member of the bar Frank Davis.

“Pattern Development is anguished over the devastating wildfires swaying the areas around the Henvey Inlet wind project. As wind draw up partners with Henvey Inlet First Nation, we are deeply active with the effect of these fires on the local communities and are committed to portion in any way we can,” Davis told CBC News.

Read the full statement from Criterion Energy below: