MUSKOKA — As the pandemic surges, forest fires and floods are a new spring threat.
Local fire chiefs say though there’s still some snow cover on the ground in parts of the district, they welcome a total fire ban imposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) as of 12:01 a.m. today.
They say in a release that with the fire season officially underway and the risk of grass, brush and forest fires growing daily, the restriction on open fires is necessary to prevent accidental fires related to burning.
The MNRF has imposed a “Restricted Fire Zone” for much of the province, in part due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and its potential impact on fire services.
“Spring can be a very dangerous time for wildfires until green-up occurs,” said Gravenhurst Fire Chief Larry Brassard.
“Operationally, mitigating risks and only utilizing equipment and personnel as absolutely required extends our ability to continue to provide services, so if it’s possible to prevent fires started by prohibiting open air burning, it makes sense to do so.”
A total fire ban is in effect in the Town of Gravenhurst which means that no fires of any type are permitted, including fires for cooking and/or warmth.
“The Gravenhurst bylaw division is enforcing the total fire ban with a zero tolerance policy on complaint basis with charges and fines ranging between $200.00 to $350.00 per offence,” added Dustin Gronc, the town’s manager of bylaw services.
Persons who witness violations of the ban have several options.
If the fire is not a safety hazard and emergency services are not required, residents and visitors are advised to report their concerns to the bylaw department at 705-687-3412 ext. 241 or Online by visiting www.gravenhurst.ca/reporit.
Make sure to provide the exact address of the property, time of the offence, and provide call back information, which is confidential. Officers will investigate and follow up with concerns.
If a fire is out of control and poses a real threat to life, safety, or property, phone 911 and the fire department will respond.
“If the fire department has to respond to an incident involving open air burning, Town policy is to invoice the property owner for all associated costs,” said Breyan Sinnott, Fire Prevention Officer.
“Costs are billed out at an hourly rate per truck plus staff costs. If multiple trucks are needed, these costs can easily be in the thousands of dollars, so we’re encouraging people not to tempt fate,” she added.
The fire ban will be in place until further notice. Yard debris gathered as part of spring clean-up should be taken to the local landfill site.
They say community’s cooperation and understanding is appreciated as the town takes the necessary precautions to keep our community safe.
Information on the most current fire conditions, including if the fire ban has been lifted, can be found online at www.Gravenhurst.ca/fire or by calling 705-687-3414.
Below is a summary from district fire chiefs of the restrictions that are in place during the ban:
- No open fires are allowed unless the fire is for cooking or warmth and is in a stove or installation prescribed in the Outdoor Fires Regulation (O.Reg. 207/96) and there is no other means available to cook with.
- Campfires are not allowed
- Portable stoves must use liquid or gas fuel and have a shutoff valve
- Outdoor wood burning stoves or furnaces must be completely enclosed with solid material and be within 100 metres of a dwelling you occupy
For more information on when a restriction is in place, please visit our website: