Concerns raised about rash of open fires in Amherst
Published Wednesday, November 8, 2017 1:48PM AST
The Town of Amherst has banned open fires, but officials say the law is being ignored, and that’s putting people at risk.
Open fires have been illegal within the town’s boundaries since 2002. That includes any outdoor fire - such as fire pits and bonfires - except for barbecues.
Amherst Fire Chief Greg Jones says his department has responded to 11 open fires this year, while the local police department has responded to an open fire about every other day.
While the numbers are concerning, he also says the types of fires being burned are dangerous.
“It’s not the volume, it’s the types of fires we’ve had. The most recent one I looked at was a pile of plastic that someone had burned,” says Jones. “We arrived after it was already out, but if that had developed and moved on, it would have been a major issue for us.”
Jones says crews were recently called to a fire at the construction site of a new home. He says that fire was especially concerning given the amount of flammable material on site.
“The debris that was there resembled construction materials that they had been burning, so that raised a little concern for us last week,” says Jones. “That’s something we haven’t seen here in quite some time in our area.”
Police say it’s especially frustrating because of the resources spent on responding to these types of calls.
“That’s always a valid concern. Sometimes when you’re dealing with something like this, that’s kind of spelled out that you can’t have fires, you could be tied up on something else, it might take you away, or you might be tied up on one of these more minor kind of complaints,” says Amherst Police Deputy Chief Dwayne Pike.
As burning season comes to a close, both the fire and police departments say they will still be keeping an eye out for illegal fires.
Anyone who violates the Fires and Burning of Materials Bylaw could face a $100 fine.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis