Grilling Fire? Map reveals most vulnerable Canadian neighbourhoods to wildfires

The hottest areas of Toronto that will see the most “active” wildfires this summer are not the same places you think.

“According to maps produced by several researchers, the locations of hot spots are as geographically and demographically diverse as they are geographically isolated,” reads a recent press release by StatsCan.

Data released by the Toronto Board of Trade shows that a large number of these areas are near Toronto’s waterfront. Others are near the Niagara Escarpment, North Bay, a portion of the Niagara River Valley and Woodbridge, Woodbridge and Jane Woods.

The maps show that to really see the locations of the areas that will see the most “active” wildfires, you have to drill down.

For example, the most fire-prone spot is north of the Humber River, close to Niagara Falls. Another is the Don Valley South —on the outskirts of Toronto’s downtown and near the Mississauga border — is right next to the Orange Sky Reservoir. It’s also just two kilometres west of Humber Town Centre, a busy commercial area.

It’s not clear where exactly the Humber River, the Don Valley South, the Toronto Niagara Parkway (TNP) and the southwestern portions of Niagara Falls are located. They likely are not that far from one another.

However, Toronto’s downtown and international airport are in the Dorchester District, South York District and Scarborough District, roughly a 40-minute drive away from any potential “active” fires.

Montreal, by contrast, had 14.6 reported acres burned in a single day, a number that fell just outside the top 100 most active areas of Canada, according to the Canadian Forest Service. So far, Toronto has recorded one suspicious fire, and another in which the natural timber burned to form a cone. No one has been injured or threatened by any of the fires.

The Smithers fire outside the small B.C. town of Smithers is less than two kilometres west of Wrigleyville Drive and 20 kilometres southwest of the Fort Macleod bypass in southeastern Toronto. The brown areas mark areas where hot spots appear on the map.

The 100 most active and worst fires in Canada

Canada has one of the least regulated outdoor burning seasons, said Al Swift, spokesperson for B.C.’s Forests Ministry.

“We do not have any legislation on open burning in the Prairies or in parts of B.C.,” he told

Instead, provinces set their own rules.

Swift said the exact location of hot spots in an area is more important than any province or city boundary.

“If you look at different areas throughout the province, depending on what fuel they are burning in and what fuel they are not burning in, you will have different patterns,” he said.

Open burning can produce a “hot spot” on the map, because for whatever reason, the heat is not spread out throughout the area.

“We’ve seen the same areas, from Point A to Point B, with different degrees of intensity. We’re seeing three- or four-fold increases in the intensity of fire, even in the same location,” he said.

When high winds or low humidity systems hit, then fires will ignite.

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