Burn ban in effect as a hot, dry spell envelops most of the province

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Clearcut areas, farmland and fields are areas most susceptible to wildfires at this time of year. (Gil Shochat/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Clearcut areas, farmland and fields are areas most susceptible to wildfires at this time of year. (Gil Shochat/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Flood season has passed, and fire season has started with a provincewide burn ban enacted Wednesday.

Roger Collet, wildfire prevention officer with the Department of Natural Resources, said that since there's no rain in the forecast for the next few days, there's an increased risk of fire.

Highs of up to 28 C are expected in some southern areas until Sunday, when showers are forecast in the afternoon.

In spring, it only takes a couple of hours after rain stops for the dead grass and leaves to dry up, he said.

"Just a small wind can dry those things up real quickly, and they're very susceptible to ignition," he told Information Morning Fredericton. "It can be quite intense, too."

Fires are banned in all parts of the province except in the north, where they're permitted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Madawaska, Restigouche and Gloucaster counties.

Submitted by Government of New Brunswick
Submitted by Government of New Brunswick

The department has responded to 87 fires so far this season, Collet said. That's lower than the 10-year average, but firefighters are seeing a jump in the last week.

"We haven't had a lot of fires, but we have had, you know, almost 40 of them in the last four days," he said. "It's normal. It just varies. … We're below the 10-year average right now, but that can change within a couple of days."

He said humans are to blame for all 87 fires.

"The only other natural cause that there is is lightning, and we haven't had any of that," he said.

Collet said forests are quite humid right now, so they're not in bad shape. But grasslands, clearcut areas like tree plantations and fields are areas at risk.

"You might walk on on the ground, and water will squish up around your shoes, but the dead standing grass will still burn," he said.

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