More than 125 hectares of marshland is now ash after a fire ripped through Point Pelee National Park on Wednesday night.
The park was locked down overnight after the fire was first reported at around 7:45 p.m. According to CBC News, firefighters and park staff worked throughout the night to control the blaze and protect the boardwalk that’s become an iconic part of the country’s southern-most national park.
The flames lit up the night sky and could be seen from as far as Kingsville, which is located about 20 kilometres away, along the shores of Lake Erie.
“It’s very sad to see natural habitat going up in flames,” said Brooke Epp, who drove to the park from the Kingsville area after her friend texted her a photo of the fire.
Point Pelee is described by Parks Canada as a “lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada” and is known as one of the best places in North America to witness the spring bird migration, attracting thousands of bird enthusiasts for its annual birding festival in mid-May.
Despite Epp’s concerns about the damage the fire could cause, Leamington Fire Services told reporters that they were following Parks Canada’s policies by allowing it to burn off.
“Anything that’s natural like that, it’s just part of the ecosystem, so that’s why it’s burned off,” said Leamington Fire Chief Chuck Parson.
At around 11 a.m. on Thursday, Leamington Fire tweeted that the fire was out, but the park remains closed until further notice.