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Fines in place for backyard fires

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It might still be sometime before you can go into your backyard and light up a fire.

North Bay Fire and Emergency Services Chief Jason Whiteley says even with the warmer weather it might be hard to resist the temptation to have a fire, but it’s the safe thing to do.

“The provincial fire ban is still on,” he explained. “Even though you might be seeing in southern Ontario that some municipalities lifting their fire ban, that’s because the provincial ban doesn’t apply in southern Ontario.”

“This ban is done under the forest fire protection act which has legislated fire areas which is basically northern Ontario from Gravenhurst up and out towards Pembroke,” Whiteley added. “Anything below Gravenhurst and towards eastern Ontario, the provincial fire ban doesn’t apply to.”

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With those boundaries in place, Whiteley says it has created some confusion.

“Innisfil is thinking of lifting their ban,” he said. “That’s because it is a municipal ban, where we are under a provincial ban in North Bay. Regardless if we lifted the municipal ban, the provincial ban would be there you cannot have outdoor burning.”

As for fines if someone is caught burning, Whiteley says there are different circumstances to consider.

“We always approach everything with an educational component first, especially if it’s a first-time offender,” he explained. “If we have been to that residence more than once, then we would be looking at a fine.”

“It all depends on the circumstances on what fine we give or if we charge for services,” Whiteley added. “If they are belligerent, or just acting unsafely, they will definitely get a fine.”

The fire ban went into place on April 3, which designated Ontario’s legislated fire region as a “restricted fire-zone.” Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry officials say it is illegal to light a fire for any purpose within a restricted fire-zone. Fines can be as hefty as $25,000 and can come with three months in jail.

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