PLAYING WITH FIRE

2004

Sharp Rock Photos: Tom Stavraky

Map: 2004 Temagami fires

 

Photo: helicopter dropping fire crew

 

Saturday, June 12 was a sunny, pleasant day in an otherwise wet, cool month. The lake was quiet on the eve of the approaching summer vacation rush.

The local high-school group camping in Sharp Rock Inlet on Lake Temagami headed home that day, leaving campfires burning.

A Keewaydin Camp boat was travelling north toward Sharp Rock. The passengers spotted a large column of smoke at five in the afternoon. "Once we got into Sharp Rock we saw two open forest fires burning in the southeast corner on the mainland," said Doug Mosle, director of Keewaydin.

The boat stopped at Camp Langskib to arrange for someone there to radio an alert to MNR. Then the boat went to the nearby cottage of Richard Evans for his fire pump. With pump, Evans and with a five-person crew of Langskib staff, the Keewaydin boat went down to fight the larger of the two fires.

 After an hour an MNR spotter plane, a helicopter, a water bomber and a firefighting crew arrived. They quickly brought the fires under control and extinguished them.

The students attended Temiskaming District Secondary School, which serves Temagami, and is situated in Temiskaming Shores (formerly New Liskeard, Haileybury and Dymond Township).

While attacking this fire, MNR spotted a third fire on Chee-skon-abikong Lake, ten kilometres west of Sharp Rock, that was burning at the base of Spirit Rock. Ironically, this fire had been started by another high school group conducting solos this one from Deep River, east of Mattawa. The fire, which had gone underground, took several days for MNR to extinguish.

Alex Mathias, a local Nishnabai elder living in the area, has since received a personal letter of apology from the teacher leading the group.

Any of these three fires could have escalated into something disastrous, but thanks to the quick action of those on the Keewaydin boat, the Langskib crew, and the MNR firefighters, we didn't even know they happened.

RELATED STORY: Fire at Spirit Rock

 
   
 

Photo: 2004 Temagami fire

Photo: 2004 Temagami fire

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