CBRM fire crews brace for grass fire season after quiet 2020

·2 min read
Deputy Chief Chris March wants people to stop burning their lawns and creating the risk of large grass fires that tie up resources.   (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
Deputy Chief Chris March wants people to stop burning their lawns and creating the risk of large grass fires that tie up resources. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

This year has the potential to be a record year for dangerous grass fires in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality after a relatively quiet 2020, says CBRM's deputy fire chief.

Chris March said in previous years, the department has responded to as many as 2,000 to 3,000 calls in a single season. Last year, he said they responded to just 300 calls.

He suspects that's because of lockdowns at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the fact that children were spending more time at home. A number of fires are set by teenagers, he said.

With many restrictions lifted, March believes this year has the potential to be another record year if CBRM receives a warm blast.

A grass fire burns in Sydney Mines in April 2016.
A grass fire burns in Sydney Mines in April 2016.(Gary Mansfield/CBC)

"It's very dependent on the weather and that if we get a lot of rain," he said. "If it warms up and the grass has an opportunity to get a lot of moisture before it gets too warm and dry, we could have a good season."

March said the old wives' tale of burning your lawn to make it healthier is bogus — and it's a myth he wants to bust.

In the past, high call volumes have tied up crews responding to grass fires, posing a threat to homes and neighbourhoods that might also need resources.

Meteorologist Ian Hubbard says above-normal temperatures are expected this spring.
Meteorologist Ian Hubbard says above-normal temperatures are expected this spring. (Ian Hubbard)

Environment Canada meteorologist Ian Hubbard said Sydney had an average winter in terms of precipitation. Late fall was milder than average, but rain and snowfall amounts were close to what was expected, he said.

"The trend we've seen over the past several months for temperatures have been forecast to be above normal and that's what we saw dating back to last summer," he said, adding the trend is expected to continue for April into May and June.

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