Canada — The province is seeing an increase in grass fires earlier this year and is urging people to take steps to prevent home and property damage.
Department of Natural Resources officials are concerned with early burning in such dry conditions. Grass burning can be destructive and dangerous with little benefits.
“There have been about 40 grass fires reported to the department’s fire centre this month compared to just four in the entire month of March last year,” said Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell. “Although our officials are well-equipped and prepared, we hope all Nova Scotians will use extreme caution during these dry conditions heading into fire season.”
In 2009, 193 fires burned 892 hectares of Nova Scotia’s forests and wildlands. The main cause was residential fires. Arson was the second leading cause.
“Wind-driven forest fires move at an surprising rate of speed, especially through softwood forests,” said MacDonell. “They can be difficult and dangerous for firefighters to control.”
People can take the following steps to protect their homes:
Manage vegetation within 30 metres of your home
Clear leaves and twigs from roof lines and gutters
Keep firewood or other piles of wood more than 15 metres away from any structure
Store gasoline and other flammable liquids and gases in approved containers and away from any occupied buildings.
Here is a list of some of the most common myths about grass burning followed by the facts:
Myth: It’s safe to burn grass as long as there is still some snow on the ground. Fact: Actually within hours of snow melting, dead grass becomes flammable, especially with drying winds. Grass fires burn hot and fast and spread quickly, even over snow cover.
Myth: Spring grass burning controls weeds. Fact: The weeds deposited their seeds into the surrounding soil last fall. Burning creates an ideal bare soil bed for the seeds to germinate.
Myth: It’s pretty safe to burn grass with a fire hall nearby. Fact: Under the Forests Act, if you light a fire, you are responsible for it. If it gets out of control you may be liable for the cost of fighting the fire, the destruction of property, and face criminal penalties for violating burning regulations.