Taiwan — The Forest Bureau reminded the public ahead of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Festival weekend Friday to take precautions while burning paper money so as to avoid causing forest fires.
Since most graves and ancestral burial grounds are located in remote, mountainous areas, the bureau said that carelessness in dealing with fire and flammable materials, especially during the dry season, can easily lead to forest fire outbreaks.
Citing Pingtung County as an example, Hsia Jung-sheng, a bureau official, said that two out of the four forest fires reported last year were caused by tomb sweeping.
Besides burning paper money, she said throwing lit cigarette butts can also start wildfires that will wreak significant damage on the ecosystem.
The bureau warned that lighting a fire in forest areas without the approval of authorities is against the law and violators could be fined as much as NT$600,000 (US$18,750).
Hsia suggested the public bring some water along when they go to sweep tombs so that they can put out fires before they spread.