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Safe grass and wood burning practices


Keep your fire burning products less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high.
Keep your fire burning products less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high.

Jill Colton, staff writer

July 26, 2011 — When it comes to burning, the Ministry of Natural Resources says you should know the rules for outdoor fires first and follow the appropriate safety practices.

Careless burning results in over 200 fires per year.
Careless burning results in over 200 fires per year.

Every year in Ontario, multiple rural residents and cottages are burned by fires that could have been prevented.

Over 200 fires per year -- or nearly one third -- are caused by careless burning. According to the Forest Fires Prevention Act, there are several materials that can be burnt without a fire permit. They include, grass, wood, brush or wood by-products.

Outdoor Fires and the Law

If you're found responsible for a forest fire, because of improper fire usage, you could be accountable for the costs of putting out the fire and for any property damage that occurs.

For those living in a municipality, you may be required to take your grass or woody debris to an approved disposal site. Check first with the local municipal office or fire department first.

If you live in northwestern, northern or central Ontario, it's the law to follow the proper safety burning information.

Choose the right time to fire up

Flames are likely to burn out of control on a hot, dry or windy day. Burn during the coolest, dampest and calmest time of the day -- two hours before sunset, or later.

Size matters

Small fires can be controlled by one person using hand tools and water. Keep your fire burning products less than two metres in diameter and less than two metres high. If you want to burn grass or leaves, the area must be less than one hectare and the length of the flaming edge is kept to less than 30 metres.

Choose the appropriate site

Burning piles must be at least two metres away from other flammable material. A fire-proof boundary is essential if you're burning grass or leaves. Roads and ditches provide a good barrier against fire spread.

Don't leave your fire alone

A responsible fire starter must be available to tend to the fire from start to finish -- even if it's contained in an incinerator.

Put your fire out!

If you start a fire, it's your responsibility to put it out. Coals can smolder for hours and hot embers can be blown by the wind, easily igniting surrounding tinder. Used charcoal or ashes should be disposed of in a pit. Hot coals should be doused thoroughly, then covered with sand or gravel.

Building a safe incinerator is also important if you often burn wood debris or litter.

With files from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

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