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April 5, 2012
For immediate release

Grass fires endanger people, property and the environment

Environment, Labour and Justice

As warmer spring weather and the long weekend approaches, Environment, Labour and Justice Minister Janice Sherry and Agriculture and Forestry Minister George Webster are reminding Islanders that grass fires can spread out of control, endangering people and property, and displacing animals that use grasslands and trees as their habitat.

“Grass fires can also tie up valuable resources,” said Ms. Sherry. “When firefighters are responding to an out-of-control grass fire, they are not available to respond to other serious or life-threatening calls.”

With minimal snow this winter, lack of snow currently in many areas, and anticipated sunny and warm weather, Islanders should use extreme care if burning grass, tree parts or any vegetation. Islanders are reminded that they need the appropriate burning permit for a controlled fire and they must conform to the conditions on the permit.

“Dry and windy conditions can quickly turn controlled burns into a dangerous situation,” said Agriculture and Forestry Minister George Webster. “Grass fires can quickly destroy valuable property and wildlife habitat.”

It is against the law to burn grass, brush, tree parts or any other vegetation without a burning permit. Burning permits set the wind speed and the fire weather index conditions under which burning can be conducted. As well, the landowner is responsible to notify the local fire department of the time and place for the proposed fire, and to have enough people and equipment to control the fire. These regulations apply to burning sites outside towns and cities. Residents of towns and cities should contact their municipal office to ensure they follow their local bylaws on burning.

“On behalf of government, I would like to recognize and thank all the volunteer firefighters and forestry firefighters who are responsible for responding to wildfires,” said Minister Webster.

A valid Burning Permit is required for all outdoor fires. Under the Fire Prevention Act, setting grass fires without a permit can result in a fine between $200 and $1,000.

Burning permits must be obtained directly from a Forest Service Officer in Wellington (854-7260), Charlottetown (Beach Grove Road 368-4800 and Upton Road 368-4700), or Southampton (961- 7296).

A special permit must also be obtained, from the Fire Marshal's Office, before burning an old building or parts of an old building. For more information, call 368-4869 or go to www.peipublicsafety.ca.

Burning household waste or hazardous waste is prohibited by the PEI Air Quality Regulations.

Backgrounder:

Controlling the Burn: www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/af_burncontrol.pdf

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Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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