The provincial government is reminding the public not to light fires in or around wooded areas, but says safely operated backyard fires are not banned.
At Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing, Premier Dwight Ball clarified the nature of the fire ban announced the day before.
“I was one of the ones that when I saw the report I said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is not something that’s going to go over too well,'” Ball laughed when asked about it.
In a press release issued Wednesday night, the government said open fires — including campfires — are not permitted until after Sept. 30, and the ban is intended “to lower the risks associated with COVID-19 exposure.”
That caused public confusion, and the reaction Ball noted.
Want to enjoy a fire in your own backyard this spring? Do it in a lawful way &…have at ‘er! The same fire regs that’ve been around each year since 1990 have been declared. Do it safely, do it lawfully. Don’t burn to clear land, or set grass fires, or burn debris. <a href=”https://twitter.com/FLR_GovNL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@FLR_GovNL</a>
“I’m no different than many other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you know. I do enjoy when I get an opportunity to sit by a campfire and sometimes even on a Saturday night listen to VOCM [radio show] Cabin Party or something,” said Ball.
“This is really not about a ban. So if you’re used to having a campfire in your backyard like you did last year — well, look, you can continue to do that.”
The premier said the guidelines referred to Wednesday have been in place for almost 30 years, and are focused on reducing the risk of forest fires requiring a response from local fire departments.
“This is really prohibiting or restricting large brush burning and so on, grass fires. We’ve already seen, I think, about five or six already this year,” he said.
He also reminded people to be responsible when having fires, follow the rules of their municipality, and use common sense — like having water nearby and making sure it is completely extinguished before leaving it.