Facing Down Forest Fires

By Connie Boland
Johnny Letto photo.

Forest fire season is in effect for the island of Newfoundland May 1 – September 30, 2021, and in Labrador May 15 – September 30, 2021. Ninety-four recorded wildfires burned 4,177 hectares throughout the province in 2020. There were 72 fires on the island, burning 145 hectares, and 22 fires in Labrador, burning 4,032 hectares. Totals for 2020 are below the previous provincial 10-year average of 105 fires and 30,757 hectares burned.

Stephanie Pinksen, acting Wildland Fire Management Training Specialist with Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, believes people are more cautious and aware of safe forest fire practices. “We advise people to remain vigilant,” she says.

Individuals are responsible for being aware of the forest fire hazard rating before lighting an outdoor fire. Failing to comply with regulations may mean fines and penalties, including costs associated with fighting a forest fire.

Stephanie reminds people that anyone travelling through forest land on an all-terrain or motorized vehicle during forest fire season is required to have the vehicle fitted with a muffler and a screening or baffling device to prevent sparks or particles of burnt carbon from escaping and creating a fire hazard. Operators are required to be equipped with a fire extinguisher containing a minimum of 225 grams of ABC-class fire retardant.

To report a wildfire in the province, call 1-866-709-FIRE (3473). Visit the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture online at www.gov.nl.ca/ffa for updates and information such as:

• Daily updated forest fire forecast map

• Information on active forest fires

• Public reminders and wildfire prevention tips

• Under “Wildfire Prevention” link to FireSmart, a national program committed to helping Canadians – including home and cabin owners – reduce wildfire risk.

Read More: Connie Boland talks to Stephanie and water bomber pilot Johnny Letto about their experiences and gets their advice for staying safe and avoiding forest fires in the July issue of Downhome. 

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