Ontario forest fire update:Alerts and restrictions lifted for French River, Killarney areas


As crews in Ontario continue to make progress containing the forest fire called Parry Sound 33, officials with the Municipality of French River have lifted the evacuation alert that had been placed on the area since July 30. 


In a news release Friday morning, the municipality said the area includes the Alban area, west of Highway 64.

As Parry Sound 33 remains “being held” at 11,362 hectares by firefighters, the Ministry of Natural Resources said the fire is not likely to spread beyond control boundaries under forecasted conditions.

The ministry has also revoked its restrictions for travel and waterway use in the area, east and west of Highway 69.

The entire area still remains a fire restricted zone, meaning any outdoor fires, fireworks and the use of tiki torches are all banned.

More restrictions lifted

Hundreds of residents and cottagers within the wider Municipality of Killarney also received good news on Friday, as those along Hartley Bay Road and the French River once again have access to their properties.

However, some travel restrictions do remain in place for certain areas.

No boaters are allowed on the Pickerel and Key rivers between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“That’s to protect the people going in and out, as well as the fire crews, because they’re working on the south shore of the Pickerel, trying to force this fire back on itself and put it out,” said Jim Rook, the municipality of Killarney’s emergency manager.

“But cottagers can come to their place as long as they’re here before eight in the morning or after eight at night.”

Jim Rook, councillor in the Municipality of Killarney, says his community is on high alert and ready to evacuate if the order comes. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Rook himself was among the permanent residents of Hartley Bay Road forced out by the forest fire almost two weeks ago.

He added that only a small southwest portion of the Pickerel river remained under travel restrictions as of Friday afternoon. Rook noted that’s a sign that Parry Sound 33 remains very active in sections within its perimeter, despite firefighters managing to keep it contained.

“The crews will be in here I would think for quite a bit longer, since we’re not getting any rain,” he said. “It feels like we’re the only place in Ontario where it never rains anymore.”

Provincial Parks beginning to reopen

Grundy Lake Provincial Park and French River Provincial Park also announced they were re-opening Friday, although several restrictions remain in place. 

In French River, visitors are still prohibited from accessing any area of the park within 500 metres of the fire’s containment zone, including campsites.

The park’s visitor centre will stay closed until further notice, while anyone who wants to purchase permits for the park can still obtain those through local outfitters.

Ontario Parks website has an updated list of park reopenings.