Forest fire forces evacuation west of Ottawa

Flames on the shore of Centennial Lake on Sunday. (Stacy Kenopic - image credit)
Flames on the shore of Centennial Lake on Sunday. (Stacy Kenopic - image credit)
Stacy Kenopic
Stacy Kenopic

The Township of Greater Madawaska in eastern Ontario says people with homes around Centennial Lake have been asked to leave because of a forest fire that started Sunday afternoon.

According to the township and Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the fire broke out shortly after 5:30 p.m. Sunday on the lake's south shore and spans 45 to 50 hectares.

The ministry said the fire is not considered under control and anywhere from 35 to 50 homes have been evacuated, while noting it's not aware of any structures lost so far because of the fire.

Water bombers and helicopters are part of ongoing firefighting efforts as the cause of the fire remains unknown, the ministry said. The township said nearby fire departments are helping.

Precautionary evacuation areas are Black Mountain Estates, Little Bay Lane, Snider's Tent and Trailer Park and Aird's Lake Road past that park, the township said Monday

People are asked to avoid the area to keep it clear for first responders.

Residents who need help with the fire can call the township from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 613-752-2222 and send an email after opening hours.

Cottager Greg Carruthers told CBC he watched from across the lake Sunday as the fire jumped from a small island to the mainland. He later left the area.

"When I spotted it, it was just smoke, grey smoke after black smoke, then we started to see flames above the trees. I was on the call with 911 at that time," he said.

WATCH | A video from Carruthers of the fire:

The province has a fire ban in place for Renfrew County. It and all surrounding counties except for Ottawa have an extreme fire risk, the highest level on Ontario's four-level scale.

Ottawa, which isn't in one of these Ontario fire regions, has its own ban. Quebec has restricted access to some forests and parks.

Centennial Lake is approximately 50 kilometres west of Calabogie and 170 kilometres west of downtown Ottawa. Carruthers said the area around his cottage was also "decimated" by last spring's fatal windstorm.

Centennial Lake fire

Smog warnings, advisories, burn bans

Environment Canada says smoke from forest fires in Ontario and Quebec is causing poor air quality across all of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

This means people with respiratory conditions or heart disease should avoid intense outdoor physical activity while a smog warning is in place, says Environment Canada.

People in smoky areas should be wary of exerting themselves too much in lower air quality and consider keeping windows closed, running HEPA filters and wearing a well-fitted N95-type mask to filter out particles from smoke.

Submitted by Conor Drummond and Tiffany Drummond
Submitted by Conor Drummond and Tiffany Drummond

An open-air burn ban has also been issued in Kingston, as forest fires are "reducing air quality in the city," the city said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The ban applies to the entire municipality of Kingston, and will remain in place until Kingston Fire and Rescue deems it no longer necessary.

Ottawa had record-breaking heat last week and hasn't recorded any rain at its international airport since May 24.

This comes after significant spring flooding along some parts of the Ottawa River earlier in spring because of the amount of snow over the winter, then that melt meeting a surge of rain in late April.