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Dry brush sparks fire warning

March 31, 2010 — The forest fire season hasn't officially started, but fires are already flaring up in parts of Ontario.

Think twice before starting an open-air fire. Your small outdoor fire is at risk of burning out of control because grass and forests are very dry this spring.

Low snowfall this past winter has created drier than normal conditions in the brush, warns Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources. Last year there were 384 fires in Ontario between April 1st and October 31st.

Forest fire season only officially begins in Ontario on Thursday, but small blazes have already broken out.

In northwestern Ontario, municipal fire departments in Rainy River District have declared a ban on all open-air burning. Crews in the area have responded to four fires since last Thursday.

A grass fire near Orillia prompted the Township of Ramara to issue a fire ban earlier this month.

Huron Shore and Sault Ste. Marie are some of the other areas that have banned open fires recently.

And grass fires have also been sparked in other provinces.

In Alberta, four grass fires burned several acres near Calgary on Monday. The local fire department said that winds can make it difficult for firefighters to control the spread of these fires.

Environment Canada's senior climatologist David Phillips mentioned forest fires in his spring outlook.

“It could be a forest fire year, it could be grasshoppers, it could be drought, it could be low water levels, there could be more bugs and nuisances from that point of view we’ll have to see what spring and summer brings to fully understand the impacts from our mild winter season,” he said.

If you're doing some spring cleaning on your property, try composting or chipping waste instead of brush burning.

And before enjoying the the long weekend with an evening bonfire, call your fire department to check if a fire ban is in place.

For details on the warm conditions in Ontario and the Prairies this week, make sure you tune into The Weather Network on TV. Your National and Regional forecast comes up at the top and bottom of every hour.

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