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Campfires good to go but do it safely

By Randy Thoms May 17, 2024 | 2:32 PM

The May long weekend is the start of the fishing season and unofficially the start of campfires.

Recent wet weather has helped keep the wildland fire hazard for much of northwestern Ontario in the low range.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says it is still important to be vigilant about your campfire and the threat it could pose to the surrounding area.

Fire Information Officer Chris Marchand says campers and anglers should check the hazard rating before starting a fire.

“We suggest that people keep campfires small, sheltered from the wind, built on rock or mineral soil, and a good distance away from surrounding vegetation, like a meter,” says Marchand.

He adds that before you leave, ensure the campfire is completely out.

He says the consequence could be quite severe.

“Prevention Act holds Ontarians responsible for the fires that they light. If a wildland fire occurs as a result of a fire that escapes your control, you can be held financially responsible for the cost of fighting that fire, not to mention putting your property and your neighbour’s properties at risk. “

He notes many of the human-caused fires have been the result of anglers having shore lunch campfires that are not properly extinguished

Marchand says that the Prevention Act also applies to the burning of brush or grass.

For those activities, he advises waiting for cooler weather and mild weather conditions or considering other means of safely disposing of your yard waste.

If you spot a fire, call the provincial fire reporting hotline at 310-fire (310-3473).

“The most important thing you can do when reporting a forest fire is to give us the best possible description of its location, which helps us pinpoint that fire on the landscape and respond to it as quickly as possible.”

Marchand says the more information you can provide helps the MNRF’s Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services determine the appropriate response.

Boaters are also asked to be mindful of water bomber aircraft working in the area and to give them the right of way and plenty of room when they drop to scoop up water.

There were three new fires that sparked this week in northwestern Ontario.

All three were small in size and extinguished without difficulty by Ministry wildland fire fighting crews.