Saturday, January 24, 2015

Chasing a fire

Well the news came out this week that Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources is suing CN Rail, claiming that it was sparks from a passing train that caused the big Timmins No. 9 forest fire in May 2012. It was a huge, huge fire. So I was looking through some photo files this week and I came across these photos which tell a little story. I remember the day the fire began, going down to Tatachikapika Lodge to get some pictures. The fire had started south of the Lodge and north of Gogama.
By the time I got there, during the supper hour, the fire was going strong. I could only get photos from a distance. Heading back to Timmins along Highway 144 I noticed there were scores of sideroads leading into the bush, west of the highway. Many were blocked. Most were not. I figured if I wanted to get some photos of the fire I would have to take a sideroad. So I just picked one, put on the 4-by-4 and starting driving west.
Soon enough, after about 10 kilometres, I knew I was getting close to the fire, but I was a bit worried about going too close. The sky was filled with thick, black and grey smoke. I pulled into a clearing where there was an esker. I climbed to the top of the esker to look around and get photos. Yes, the fire was just over the next hillside.
Suddenly there was a helicopter hovering nearby. Great! I started snapping photos and then the helicopter got closer. Guy inside was waving at me. I waved back. So then the chopper circled around and landed. You can see my little truck in the photo. The guy got out and he was angry! He was an MNR Conservation Officer and told me I had no business being there, to get the hell out. Once I explained I was with the newspaper, he calmed down and explained that the fire zone was being declared and no one allowed in the hot zone. So I got out. But I also got some nice photos.

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