“I’d say this ban is going to be on for the rest of the month, unless something drastic changes,” said South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services chief Chris McDonough.
South Dundas is just one of many Ontario townships with a fire ban in place due to the extreme weather conditions affecting most of Ontario.
In South Dundas, the fire ban means no burning of any kind, except for cooking on a hibachi or barbecue and even that is subject to a possible ban if the situation worsens.
For now, McDonough suggests that people “be extra cautious of their environment” and if using coals for a cooking fire, “make sure they are extinguished, that they are completely out.”
As for the ‘no burning of any kind,’ this includes, but is not limited to, bonfires, burning in a barrel, chimenea fires (outdoor fireplaces), campfires and any other recreational-type fires. It also includes all commercial burning for agriculture.
“If you’re not sure, you can call,” said McDonough, “It applies to everyone.”
“I would also caution people on discarding smoking materials,” he said. With conditions as dry as they are, a carelessly discarded cigarette butt could cause a lot of damage.
As evidence of what a cigarette butt can do when not properly extinguished, McDonough pointed to the fire that overtook the Dunbar Recreation Centre last fall.
Anyone caught violating the burn ban is “subject to being charged,” said McDonough. This includes charges for any fire vehicles sent to the location, hourly rates for manpower, and any applicable fines.
He would also caution that there will be no warnings. If caught, there will be charges.
As for when the ban might be lifted, McDonough suggested that it would take at least a solid, steady two to three days of all-day rain, coupled with cooler temperatures.
Basically, “it depends on the daytime conditions,” he said. When the ban is lifted, notices will be posted.
Currently, “if the wind catches a small fire, it’ll just take off with these conditions,” said McDonough.
As for laws governing burning when a fire ban is not in effect, the Township of South Dundas currently has two by-laws. By-law number 99-19 and By-law number 2002-14 outline the rules governing the setting of fires within South Dundas.
It is the most recent by-law, number 2002-14, that prohibits open burning in hamlet areas and requires all other areas to apply for burn permits.
Open burning includes any burning that is not done in a building. For example, an outdoor fireplace is considered open burning because it is done outside.
So, for those people living in areas with housing developments, like Morrisburg or Iroquois, using a chimenea or having any sort of an outdoor fire that isn’t an actual barbecue, is against the by-law and subject to fines.
According to McDonough, “we are revising our burning by-law this fall.”
To recap, a fire ban is in place in South Dundas. This means no burning of any kind, except for cooking on hibachis or barbecues.
For more information or to report unlawful burning, contact chief Chris McDonough at 613-543-2333 or contact the township office at 613-535-2673.