Wildfire risk moderate to very high across Nova Scotia
People need to take extra precautions during hot, dry weather, says fire prevention officer
Nova Scotia's hot and dry weather may be great for vacationers, but it's not great for preventing wildfires.
The fire weather index map rates the risk of fire in Nova Scotia. It's between moderate and very high, depending on where you are in the province.
Kara McCurdy, a fire prevention officer with the province, said people need to take extra precautions during hot and dry weather.
"You should be able to put your hand in the ashes and they should be cold before you go to bed or when you're done burning," she said.
There are hundreds of wildfires in Nova Scotia each year and most begin as smaller fires, started by people who don't expect the flames to get out of hand, said McCurdy.
Brush burning and campfires are currently banned from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., every day, across all Nova Scotia counties.
McCurdy also said there is a new colour coding system this year to better identify the risk of wildfires.
“We wanted to be consistent across Canada and what the rest of the provinces have. We've switched the system," she said.
"The blue is the lowest of the fire index, the rain we had last Thursday. It's making the fuels wet that are out there. Then you get into the green, which is the moderate category, where your grasses and fine fuels, such as twigs, are starting to get dry. When you get into the yellow, orange and red, you're getting into very dry fuels."
McCurdy said when the map is orange or red, it's good to be vigilant about the risk of fire.
"You're looking at the stuff that is underground that is starting to get really dry," she said.
"If you did have a brush fire or campfire and it did escape from you, it's going to do two things. If it's windy, it's going to make the fire go faster. But not only that, it's going to burn deeper into the ground. When you see the sign in the orange or red side of the fire weather index we're going to get into having no burn days, with a burn restriction."
Fire safety tips
Here are some fire safety tips the province recommends for safe burning:
Check with your local Department of Natural Resources office for the necessary burning permit.
- Remove all vegetation within three metres of your firepit.
- Be sure the firepit is located well away from structures and vegetation.
- Make sure there is little or no wind that can blow sparks or ash toward structures or vegetation.
- Use a barrel to burn small brush that is in good condition. Make sure it's at least three metres away from vegetation.
- Use steel rods or pipes to hold the burning material up from the bottom of the barrel.
- Ensure a metal mesh screen (with openings no larger than five millimetres) has been placed over the barrel opening.
- Keep fire fighting tools on hand (a garden hose, shovel, rake and buckets).
Soak ashes well and let them sit in a metal container for at least 24 hours before disposing them in a pit.
The government has set up a special page to tell people about the burning restrictions. The map is updated every afternoon.
To report a fire, call 911 or the Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-565-2224.
For information on burning conditions you can call the Burnsafe Line at 1-855-564-2876.