Steady rain is expected to bring much-needed relief to northern Ontario communities battling dangerous forest fires.

    A rain system moving into the region today is expected to help crews douse raging blazes near Timmins and Kirkland Lake.

    Fire crews are hoping the damp weather will prevent new wildfires from starting and allow them to focus on the ones threatening rural communities.

    Timmins and Kirkland Lake both remain under a state of emergency, but conditions did improve yesterday as the winds that have been fanning the flames finally relented.

    Last week high winds blew smoke and ash from the fires into some communities and kept water bombers grounded.

    Hundreds of residents had to flee homes, cottages and camps.

    And while some have been allowed to return — most are still waiting to hear when they can go home.