By Chad Ingram
The fire ban that had been in place across Haliburton County’s four municipalities since June 1 amid dry conditions was lifted by the county’s fire chiefs on June 18.
The removal of the ban means that bonfires, the use of torches, charcoal barbecues, etc. and the lighting of fireworks (within the rules of municipal bylaws) are once again permitted.
Algonquin Highlands fire chief Mike French told township councillors during a June 17 online meeting that despite signage throughout the township and county, as well as notification in local media, there had been six violations of the ban, resulting in residents being fined.
“We had zero tolerance, and the appropriate invoicing has been forwarded to those property owners,” French said.
In Algonquin Highlands, if fire services are called to a property, the property owner is invoiced for those services, at a rate of $485 per truck, per hour.
“The bushes were really dry,” French said, referencing a fire along North Shore Road the week prior. “We have to do all we can to protect our forests.”
“I think that’s an appropriate course of action,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt. “There is absolutely no reason not to know that the fire ban’s in place, you know, with social media and signs, radio, newspaper … You’d have to be living under a rock, really, or have not have been informed by a landlord, or something of that nature.”
Daytime burning remains prohibited between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. without a daytime burn permit, as per standard seasonal fire regulations. A press release from the Township of Minden Hills indicated that all daytime burning permits and fireworks permits that had been suspended amid the ban were once again active.
“If you have applied for a burn or fireworks permit, inspections will begin again and approvals issued as required,” the release reads. “The discharge or use of fireworks without a permit is prohibited, please contact the Minden Hills fire department for more information.”
Each of the county’s municipalities have similar fireworks bylaws, relegating use of fireworks during certain hours on certain holidays or holiday long weekends.
As of press time, the fire risk in the county was considered moderate, and the release indicates that fires must include materials assembled in single pile, no more than two metres in diameter, and no more than two metres high. Fires must be at least two metres away from flammables or combustible materials, and must be completely extinguished (cold to the touch) when finished.