Firefighting efforts continue in Gogama
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2019 12:43PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 11, 2019 4:00PM EDT
The recent rain helped, but the battle goes on for Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry crews tackling a big wildfire near Gogama, called Timmins 2.
It's been a busy time for fire crews south of Timmins, but progress is being made and officials now feel they have the upper-hand and evacuation plans are on hold.
Mother Nature took a turn on Monday, thrusting the region into a rainfall warning with upwards of 50 millimeters expected.
"Currently, the weather conditions are helpful for fire suppression and, like I said, we're expecting some more throughout the week, which is positive. And that will help to reduce the amount of fire activity, which will help the crews to make progress this week, definitely." said Isabelle Chenard, of the MNRF.
Residents in the Gogama area have been on pins and needles looking for information.
Over the weekend, dry conditions and wind quickly propelled the blaze to what is now 5,000 hectares in size.
But, the threat of evacuation isn't over.
The flames are just a few kilometers outside of town and if the wind shifts, community leaders may ask people to leave.
Christine Bedard is the secretary of the Gogama Local Services Board.
"For the most part, people are leaving with a sense of this is being taken care of. It is clarified this is not a mandatory evacuation that we have prepared for." said Bedard.
Gogama is in the riding of NDP MPP France Gelinas and she says her phone has been ringing constantly since the ordeal began.
She, like many others, is relieved about the wet conditions.
"It's the first time this spring that I’m happy to see the rain. I've been complaining that we've had too much rain this spring, but right now, when it started to pour this morning, it was like ‘hallelujah!’ I'll take everything that comes down and everyone felt the same way." said Gelinas.
"There's really no threat to the community of fire. It's mainly the level of power to the community, as well as smoke and air quality." said Bedard.
At last word, roughly 20 crews were still on the ground, but it's unclear what kind of difference the rain on Monday made.
MNRF officials are assessing it closely.
However, officials with the Mattagami First Nation, just outside Gogama, were so concerned about the air quality, that they declared a state of emergency.
73 of the community's most vulnerable people were evacuated to Timmins Sunday night, but they've since returned home.
A town hall meeting Sunday night put on by the Gogama Local Services Board saw over 160 residents in attendance.
The MNRF fielded questions and updated people on the latest regarding the Timmins 2.