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Safety tips for preventing forest fires as unprecedented number burn through Canada

August 3, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

It’s been an unprecedented year for forest fires in Canada, with hundreds of wildfires burning across Ontario, Quebec, and the western provinces.

If you’re planning on camping or spending time at the cottage, remember you are responsible for the fires you start. Be careful to only start a fire when the conditions allow it to burn safely, and always remember to extinguish it correctly.

If you cause a wildland fire, you could be charged under the Forest Fires Prevention Act and may be held responsible for the cost of putting out the fire.

During hot and dry weather, sparks and embers can start forest fires. The province investigates all forest fires to determine the cause.

When building a campfire, choose a site close to a water source and sheltered from the wind. Build your fire on bare rock, dirt or other non-combustible material, and at least one metre away from any flammable material.

You should ensure the space above the fire is at least three metres from overhanging branches and vegetation.

To prepare the site for a fire, clear a space about two metres wide. Remove pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs. Scrape the area right down to the mineral soil. Always ensure you have a pail of water and a shovel to control the fire.

Keep your fire small. It should be a maximum of one metre high and one metre wide. Small fires are safer, easier to control, and easier to extinguish.

Never leave a campfire unattended.

When you put a fire out, use plenty of water and stir the ashes with a stick. You should repeat this until the ashes are cold to the touch, are no longer hissing, and there is no smoke.

During the summer, Ontario experiences an average of at least one wildfire every day caused by an unextinguished or unattended campfire.

On average, more than 200 wildfires are caused every year by recreation forest users such as anglers, campers, berry pickers, canoeists, hunters, and picnickers.

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