Thursday, March 28, 2013

Right at the edge of the world

Lonnie Boyer's photo of Pipestone Bay,  makes you wonder if there's anything beyond those islands.
Great shot!
Interestingly, this photo is not of fog but of smoke from a forest fire.
Red Lake is smack dab in the middle of the Boreal Forest, the world's largest ecosystem, and if the weather is warm and sunny, it is not unusual for forest fires to be burning somewhere in the region.
If I remember correctly, the fire that was making the smoke in this photo was about 15 miles away in Woodland Caribou Wilderness Park. That might seem fairly close but there were lots of lakes between it and Bow Narrows Camp and we were never concerned.
There are 250,000 lakes in Ontario and the lion's share are in Northwestern Ontario where Red Lake is located. In fact, Ontario's lakes account for one-third of all the fresh water in the world!
When flying in a plane around Red Lake it seems there is more water than land, as far as the eye can see.
The forest fires are almost always started by lightning. A single thunderstorm can start dozens of fires through the region. Most of these are extinguished almost immediately by the Ministry of Natural Resources fire crews. They have a lightning detection system that pinpoints each lightning strike exactly. Immediately after a storm the MNR sends out a fast, twin-engine spotter plane that checks out each strike location for smoke. They then check the strikes daily for quite a period in case some smouldering tree eventually breaks out into flame.
Our fishermen are also on the watch for new fires. Many times they have spotted the first telltale plume of smoke coming from over a hill. We report the sighting to the MNR and they do their thing.

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