Dry conditions put damper on campfires

A photo of Nova Scotia's burnsafe map
Nova Scotia burnsafe map.
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 11-08-2020

Numerous heat warnings over the past number of weeks have created dry conditions that have provincial officials on the lookout for forest fires.

The department of lands and forestry burnsafe map has gone red across mainland Nova Scotia indicating a burn ban is in place on open fires of any kind.

The ban includes campfires and backyard chimineas and also prohibits people from setting off fireworks.

Manager of Forest Protection Scott Tingley says the ban will be in effect until the weather changes.

“Until we get some rain those restrictions, the ones that are in place, are going to remain,” says Tingley. “With no rain, people can probably expect tighter restrictions going forward.”

Restrictions are based on precipitation, relative humidity, temperature along with wind direction and speed observed at 31 weather stations the department of lands and forestry has in place across Nova Scotia.

Tingley says they’re seeing crunchy grass, and dry twigs but what’s most concerning is the lack of moisture in the ground, causing the forest floor to dry out.

“The result of that is, fires that do start in these conditions are just that much more persistent and harder to put out. You have to dig deeper and get water deeper and put it on for a longer period of time to actually put them out,” says Tingley.

Often, campers will think because they’ve dowsed their campfire with water they have extinguished the fire, but Tingely says that’s not always the case.

“It really is hard in these conditions to put them out. They really have to, where they are permitted; to put water on them, stir them up really good, soak them again,” says Tingley. “You just have to be very, very diligent with any fire that’s out there right now”

In 2016, fires burned for days near Kejimkujik national park.

In August of that year, the province issued a burn ban, but the minister also took the extra step of restricting travel in the woods for hikers and all-terrain vehicles.

While the situation is not at 2016 levels yet, Tingley says similar actions could be taken if conditions don’t improve.

“We have had them in the past, but they’re few and far between. But give it another week or two of drying in some of these areas and we probably will be having those discussions,” says Tingley.

He encourages Nova Scotians to check the burn restriction map updated daily at 2:00pm by visiting www.novascotia.ca/burnsafe.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson