Grass fires prompt warning from P.E.I. officials

Fire fighters are warning Islanders to be careful with outdoor fires following dozens of grass fires reported over the weekend.
A grass fire behind the Charlottetown Mall over the weekend. (Becca Coles)

Firefighters are warning Islanders to be careful with outdoor fires following dozens of grass fires over the weekend.

The size of one of the burned areas — behind Charlottetown Mall — shows how far and fast a grass fire can travel, according to Charlottetown Fire Chief Randy MacDonald.

"We had a couple of young fellas that were playing with a lighter and set a small fire and it got away on them," MacDonald said. "Station 2 responded to this call, [with] probably about 25 to 30 fire fighters with four apparatus."

"It's that time of year and we encourage our people, our residents not to light grass fires. It serves no purpose and it's very dangerous.

The early arrival of warm weather, plus drier than average conditions means fire season has arrived early on the Island.

It’s also the time when forest fires pop up.

Like grass fires, forest fires can be difficult to control, and put property and homes at risk.

Province-wide, more than 30 grass and brush fires have been reported in recent days.

Forestry officials say the risk of fire continues to rise. Outdoor burning permits are suspended.

"We are certainly encouraging people to use extreme caution with any type of outdoor flame — it could be barbecue, anything," said Ken Mayhew, senior manager for the provincial Forests, Fish and Wildlife Division.

"Just take a good look around and see if there's anything flammable. In this type of weather condition that fire could spread quite quickly."

The boys who started the grass fire in Charlottetown are going to take a fire safety course offered by the city fire department.