The fellow who was bucking wood by the Spicer’s farm on the long weekend and decided to build a small fire got the fire chief smoking mad.
The little fire he built on the grassy expanse between the beach and the Spicer’s house quickly escaped its small circle of stones and raced over the tinder-dry straw. Luckily for Janet Spicer and the fire lighter, the wind was blowing east, not north. Even so, the flames reached the plastic fencing at the edge of the farm and completely melted it.
If the fire had reached one of the farm’s outbuildings, Fire Chief Terry Warren said, it could have burned all the way to the Hydro substation or the hospital. It was all a mere matter of chance that it didn’t.
“It was just stupid,” said the fuming fire chief, who emphasized there are burning restrictions and bylaws in place for a reason.
Backyard fires are permitted, but they come with restrictions to ensure they are safe, he said, and so that something like the brushfire in front of the Spicer’s doesn’t happen.
Campfires, open fires with an eighteen-inch diameter, are allowed with a permit, Warren explained, but fire enthusiasts must always watch the fire and have shovels and sufficient water on hand, just in case. “Check your bylaws before you burn,” he advised.
Burns are also regulated to ensure that the air remains relatively free of particulate matter that can affect people with asthma or breathing problems, he said.
Fires can make a dent in your bank account as well as in the quality of the air. Whether or not you like it, you can be blamed for what they do. Even though it may have been an accident that a fire spread, if it was lit by you, you still can be held responsible for any damages, said Warren.
The fire chief recommended taking any old leaves you’re tempted to pile high and light up over to the Spicer’s farm instead, where they use them as mulch and compost.
So, check the bylaws, keep an eye on your fire at all times, have water and shovels at the ready, and don’t take off until the coals are cold. Is that it?
“For God’s sakes if a fire gets away on you, call us,” said the fire chief, who was still burning up that not a single person called the grass fire in during the long weekend. If you’re in doubt about a fire you see call the fire department, said Warren, who has a list of all fires permitted on any given day.
The firewood-collecting firebug was found and has since made the rounds, getting a talking to from both RCMP and Warren. I’m sure his cheeks were burning with shame.