Grass fire season in Cape Breton arrives in full force

Grass fire season in Cape Breton arrives in full force

Firefighters in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have been busy this week as grass fire season returns to the region with a vengeance. 

"I talk to my counterparts in HRM, Halifax Regional Fire, and they find it hard to believe that we actually have a season that we actually call grass fire season," Cape Breton Regional deputy fire chief Chris March said. 

North Sydney Fire responded to 127 grass fires last year, while Sydney reported 300. March said the calls are a "heartache" that put first responders at unnecessary risk, even if they sound minor.

"They can be very serious and, more importantly, tie up resources and they drastically tire our firefighters out, which impedes their ability to respond to another fire," he said.

Grass fire spreads to barn

North Sydney Fire Chief Lloyd MacIntosh said his department faced 12 fires on Monday night, and three more were set on Tuesday.

"Stop lighting grass fires," was his simple message.

He said rather than ramping up, this year's grass season appeared instantly at full force.

"One of the fires turned into a structure fire and caused damage to a barn, so these things can get pretty bad pretty fast," he said. 

Grass fires are a crime

MacIntosh said grass fires are putting his members at risk and taxing resources.

He said grass fires used to be almost always set by children, but that it's not true anymore.

Cape Breton Regional Police spokesperson Desiree Vassallo said anyone who sees suspicious activity related to grass fires, or an active grass fire, should call 911.

"At the end of the day a grass fire is an illegal fire and anyone caught setting a grass fire can face charges ranging from mischief right to arson," she said.