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The Stein Lake fire burns near Saint Andrews in May 2023. Image: Submitted

Wildfire season underway in N.B.

By Brad Perry Apr 17, 2024 | 6:49 AM

New Brunswick firefighting teams are preparing for what could be another busy wildfire season.

A total of 209 wildfires burned nearly 860 hectares of land across the province in 2023, according to the province.

That includes 500 hectares ravaged by the Stein Lake fire that broke out in Charlotte County in May.

Roger Collet, a wildfire prevention officer, said fires are not only becoming more frequent but also more intense.

“During wildfire season, it only takes one bad day for the situation to escalate out of control,” Collet said during a news conference on Tuesday.

“When the Stein Lake wildfire ignited, we were actioning 15 fires that day. … It’s a poignant reminder of how swiftly things can spiral out of control.”

New Brunswick’s 10-year average is 246 fires per year, with 450 hectares of forested area burned.

Collet said the province has around 150 trained personnel ready to respond when fires do break out, with hundreds of other emergency firefighters serving with fire departments across the province.

While their ground and air support teams are ready for action, he said they need every New Brunswicker to be equally vigilant and proactive.

An overhead view of some of the land burnt by the Stein Lake fire near Saint Andrews. Image: Submitted/Scott Legge

Figures from the province showed that 202 of the 209 wildfires started last year were caused by humans. The remaining seven were sparked by lightning.

“Before lighting any fires, it’s crucial to check burning conditions by calling the Burn Hotline [at 1-866-458-8080] or visiting our Fire Watch page,” said Collet.

Within city and town boundaries, check with municipal offices about burning permit restrictions.

If you spot a wildfire, call 911 or your local ranger office so action can be taken quickly, said Collet.

The wildfire prevention officer also offered some tips on how to protect your home from wildfires.

Collet said you should avoid using bark mulch near your home and regularly clean up fallen branches, dead leaves, dry grass, and needles around your house.

In addition, cleaning debris from the home’s roof and gutters can reduce the risk of ignition from a wildfire.

“We want you to enjoy the summer season, but do so with caution. Do so ensuring that we’re not being reckless or careless with flame or potential abilities to start fires,” said Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland.