Evacuations had been completed in more than a dozen Ontario communities as of July 22, and fire officials were hopeful that the fires would soon be under control.
Most were airlifted to Thunder Bay, then routed to host communities across southern Ontario that included at least one First Nation.
In all, 3,591 people were evacuated, Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) said, though officials were working closely with First Nations leaders to monitor the situation.
Cat Lake First Nation, Koocheching First Nation and Keewaywin First Nation were all fully evacuated, EMO said. Partially evacuated were Eambametoong First Nation, Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Kingfisher Lake, Mishkeegogamang First Nation, North Spirit Lake First Nation and Sandy Lake First Nation.
Host communities included Matachewan First Nation, which took in 108 people, and Greenstone, which took in the most, with 1,038 people. Arther, Dryden, Ignace, Kapuskasing, Marathon, Moosonee, Ottawa, Sioux Lookout, Smiths Falls, Thunder Bay and Wawa are also housing evacuees.
Meanwhile, smoke-induced evacuations have spread to Manitoba, where at least 300 residents of St. Theresa Point First Nation were evacuated, CTV reported on July 21.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) reported 10 new fires erupting on Saturday July 23, bringing the current total up to 118 active fires scorching about 1.3 million acres.
“Forecast weather into the next week over the northwest continues in favour of firefighting, and good progress is being made on fire suppression,” MNR said on its website. “Today, fires are not burning as fiercely as before, however, they are burning deep into organic matter which indicates how dry the forest is. It will take continued suppression efforts and a significant amount of rain to put fires out.”
Firefighting support has poured in from all over Canada, with British Columbia, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador all sending firefighters, equipment or aircraft, the MNR said. More than 2,000 firefighters and 100 aircraft are working to quell the flames.