Multiple fires from Gravenhurst to Huntsville may be linked to burning rail car

Update May 13, 11:30am MUSKOKA: Two other fires were also fought in Huntsville yesterday. According to the the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department, fire crews responded in the morning to a home on Fairyview Drive in Huntsville for a fire on the exterior of the building. The quick actions of a neighbor who had spotted the fire kept the fire from spreading into the attic space and allowed crews to fully extinguish the fire and keep it contained to the exterior of the home. The cause is suspected to be from improperly disposed smoking materials which had ignited the grass and spread to the building. Damage was estimated at $5000.

On Thursday afternoon, fire crews along with Ministry of Natural Resources battled a large brush fire approximately 4 hectares size in the Raven Lake area of Lake of Bays. This fire was caused by a contractor burning during restricted hours. Charges are pending in this fire. The Ministry of Natural Resources brought in water bombers to assist in controlling the blaze.

The Fire Department has now also confirmed that it’s suspected spot fires along the CNR tracks throughout Muskoka may have been caused by a rail car that was burning and then extinguished by firefighters in Huntsville.

Original post: Firefighters from Gravenhurst, Huntsville, Bracebridge and Port Sydney were busy yesterday dealing with six separate fire sites across Gravenhurst to Huntsville. All Gravenhurst fires appeared to be close to the CNR railway lines. As of 5:30pm yesterday, all fires were under control. In Huntsville, two fire trucks responded to a rail car on fire on the CN line adjacent to Aspdin Road near Ferguson. And firefighters were also deployed to a grass fire on Lone Pine Drive between Bracebridge and Huntsville.

Note: Featured photo shows fire crews on a rail car just moments after extinguishing a fire in the rail car. Photo by Norah Fountain.

The first Gravenhurst fire was reported shortly after 1pm located behind the Ministry of Transportation weigh scales on Highway 11 and southbound Highway 11 was closed while firefighters fought the blaze. A second fire site at Caroline Street was put out quickly.

Gravenhurst and Huntsville fires
Police blocked Winhara Road at the Gravenhurst entrance leaving Bracebridge near the Kubota plant and also at Jones Road in Gravenhurst while fire crews dealt with a fire near Jones.

The third fire site was at Winhara Road, near Jones Road, which OPP told Muskoka News Watch was under control as of 5 pm, but the road remained blocked to traffic due to the dry conditions.

The fourth fire site was reported on Rusty Rock Road. All available Gravenhurst units were deployed to fight the fires. Bracebridge, Muskoka Lakes and Severn Township Fire Departments provided valuable assistance through implementation of the Mutual Aid plan.

No injuries were reported in the Gravenhurst fires and only one structure was reported damaged — an unoccupied mobile home on Winhara Road.

Burning rail car may have caused spot fires

In Huntsville around 2pm, firefighters were fighting a blaze in a rail car on the CN line that runs adjacent to Aspdin Road. It was the seventh car on the train. It was quickly separated from the rest of the rail cars and two fire crews responded. The rail car was carrying wooden railway ties and the fire was quickly extinguished by the fire crews. Officials of the Huntsville/Lake of Bays fire department say it is suspected that the burning rail car in Huntsville caused spot fires along the CNR tracks throughout Muskoka. CN Rail continues to investigate the cause of the fire in the rail car. While this fire was being put out, crews from Station 3 in Port Sydney were dispatched to a grass fire along the CNR tracks near Lone Pine Drive and Stephenson Road 1 along with crews from Bracebridge Fire. This fire spread to cover an area of about two hectares in size.