St. John's fire inspector begs people to stop having backyard fires amid provincewide ban
St. John's regional fire department called to 16 backyard fires over weekend
The St. John's regional fire department is begging people on the northeast Avalon Peninsula to stop having backyard fires, after crews were called to 16 backyard fires Saturday and Sunday.
The provincial government announced a ban on open fires for all of Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday as two massive forest fires continue to burn in central Newfoundland. Fires in the forest or 300 metres from a forest are prohibited; so are campfires and brush burning.
"If you're having a fire in your backyard and somebody calls to complain, we are going to respond. We are going to put it out. Please, we're really, really begging people not to do this," said Insp. Cara Pardy of the department's fire prevention division.
"Please, please, please do not have a fire in your backyard until the conditions are safer to do so."
All backyard fires with wood or charcoal are banned, even if they're in approved fire pits or chimineas, said Pardy, because embers can drift through the air and end up hundreds of feet away, igniting a fire. Pardy said people could be fined for having fires during the ban, but none had been issued as of Monday morning.
Pardy said weather conditions this summer have been unusually hot and dry, and any rain that fell Monday was quickly absorbed into the ground.
"We're dealing with tinder-dry conditions in the city, in our wooded areas, so one little spark could create a very large fire in a matter of minutes."
Pardy said a potential forest fire on the Avalon Peninsula could divert resources needed to battle fires in central Newfoundland.
"We are asking everybody, no fires in your backyard unless it's propane. This is not going to last forever. It's only going to last short term until we have more rain."
Pardy also noted mulch is very flammable and said people who have it near their home should water it to prevent it from igniting. She said people can also trim back trees from homes and decks and move propane tanks and other combustibles away from the house as well.
She also urged smokers to ensure cigarettes are extinguished before throwing them away because they can start grass and brush fires.
Pardy said the fire ban will be in place in Newfoundland until at least Aug. 16.