Eganville – The Restricted Fire Zone  (RFZ) introduced by the province for Ontario’s fire region was to be lifted at 4 o’clock on Tuesday, Bonnechere Valley Fire Chief Darryl Wagner told council about 3:40.

“We are still in a Level 2 ban at 4 o’clock,” he clarified during a committee meeting of council.

The Restricted Fire Zone by the province supersedes a fire ban brought in place by the municipality. However, with the removal of the Restricted Fire Zone, he said it falls back to the fire department to access local situations. For now, all the restrictions on fires, including campfires remain in place, he stressed.

“I am going to take a look at local conditions and make a decision by Thursday morning,” he said.

Mayor Jennifer Murphy said she was pleased to see conditions had improved enough for the province to lift the Restricted Fire Zone designation. She pointed out she has been attending meetings about the fire danger conditions and things did not look good.

“Two weeks ago, they were talking into August,” she said.

Earlier in the meeting, the fire chief had noted although there has been some rain, it has not been enough to saturate the land.

“We have been having rain, but it is so sporadic,” he said.

He said there is a lot of confusion still about the fire region and the fire ban.

Councillor Merv Buckwald said there are signs everywhere, as well as driving into other communities there are many signs about the fire bans in place.

“If they don’t get the message…,” he said.

Chief Wagner said there is no burning allowed of any kind with a Level 2 ban and he will consider moving to a Level One ban but will make that decision carefully in the next few days.

“Dropping down to Level One, would that allow campfires?” asked Coun. Buckwald.

“Yes, but no burning brush,” the fire chief said.

As of press time, BV remained at a Level Two fire ban with no burning allowed of any kind, including campfires.

Although the Restricted Fire Zone was lifted, the Forest Fire Information Map for Ontario showed much of Renfrew County in a high forest fire danger rating. The interactive map shows the forest fire danger ratings and locations of fires. As of press time, the southern part of Renfrew County was listed as high danger and the northern part of the county as moderate danger.

The Restricted Fire Zone had been in place for the entire fire region of Ontario.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry would like to thank Ontarians and visitors for doing their part to help prevent forest fires and keep communities safe,” a release from the MNRF stated. “Please continue to use extreme caution and follow Ontario’s Outdoor Fires Regulations when having an outdoor fire.”

The release continued, “lifting the RFZ does not mean we can let our guard down when it comes to preventing human-caused fires. We all need to remain vigilant and keep safety top of mind when having outdoor fires.”

An MNRF Restricted Fire Zone and a municipal fire ban can be in place at the same time or separately, the MNRF noted.

“It is important that the public check with their local municipality as they may have local ire bans or fire restrictions in place,” the release concluded.