Firefighters Save Provinces Forests

first_imgNova Scotia’s forests and wildlands were consumed and threatened by more fires in 2007. But the total area burned by those fires was contained to half the previous year’s losses, thanks largely to the efforts of firefighters from across the province. Statistics released today, Feb. 28, by the Department of Natural Resources show 393 wildland fires in 2007. Although the number of fires increased by almost 70 per cent over 2006, the total area consumed by those fires was contained to 711 hectares (1756 acres). “Through the quick response of the firefighting crews from our department, as well as municipal and volunteer fire departments around the province, the destruction from those fires was greatly reduced,” said Natural Resources Minister David Morse. “It’s a tribute to their hard work and expertise in fighting fires that Nova Scotia’s natural areas are being protected from the devastating effects of fire.” Last year, fire crews from the 30 Department of Natural Resources depots were first responders on 95 fires. The department oversees about four million hectares in Nova Scotia, excluding federal land and incorporated municipalities and towns. The high fire count from last season was mostly attributable to a dry spring as well as careless and criminal human activities, said Robert Uttaro, supervisor of fire management for the department. “Before the vegetation greens up later in May or early June, grasses and forest fuels are in a very dry state and at high risk of fire. After green-up, the woods stay lush until dry weather conditions remove moisture from forest fuels.” April and May, between the spring snowmelt and the green-up of the woodlands, are the highest risk months for fire. Last year, 319 fires burned through Nova Scotia’s wildlands during those two months alone. Figures from 2007 also indicate an increase in arson, which accounted for 152 fires (almost 39 per cent of fires in wildland areas) that destroyed 293 hectares. The previous year, there were 61 reported arson fires. The next leading cause was residential sources, with a total of 133 fires burning 186 hectares. Those fires were ignited by residents burning garbage, brush piles or grasslands, a dangerous practice that sparked blazes consuming 74 hectares. Mr. Uttaro said this is a good opportunity to remind Nova Scotians that spring is also the season when the province’s wildlands are at greatest risk from uncontrolled fires. Grass and brush burning by residents and arson ignite scores of fires annually that consume hundreds of hectares. “If people must burn brush, we encourage them to do so in the winter months and preferably with snow on the ground,” he said. For a complete listing of the statistics and more information on forest protection and fire management in Nova Scotia’s woodlands, see the website at www.gov.ns.ca/natr/protection/wildfire/stats/stats.htm .last_img