Burn ban hasn't slowed down fires in tinder-dry New Brunswick
HARDINGS POINT, N.B. -- New Brunswick campground owner Howard Heans has been trying to clean up some of the "fuel" from around his campground.
"These leaves are in some places a foot deep," Heans said.
He says, these days, there's an ominous feel to the forest.
"Yesterday, when it was 28 degrees, you could actually smell the woods," he said. "They had an aroma like it was cooking, it was that warm."
The situation was a lot different than it was the last two years, when his property was flooded.
The current dry spell has quickly reduced river levels this year.
"Three foot drop in the past five days," Heans said.
Dryness in the woods is one of the reasons the province has declared a burning ban across all of New Brunswick.
"It's been red for a while," said Chief Troy Gautreau of the Grand Bay-Westfield Fire Department. "It's probably going to stay red for a while, which means absolutely no burning including recreational campfires."
Firefighters are concerned that even a simple grassfire could quickly get out of hand.
"It's still very dry," Gautreau said. "It's still a very dangerous time of year for brush fires and grass fires, and particularly in Grand Bay-Westfield where we have some of our housing is right in the middle of trees."
Last year, this community also had to cope with a second consecutive year of record flooding.
This year, a steady breeze continues to wither the region with dry air.
"If there was a wind blowing, you'd never get it stopped," Heans said. "And once it got into the big trees it would start crowning, from top to top."
The leaves on the forest floor are brittle, potentially fuel for fire, and forest rangers are concerned that there's not a lot of precipitation in the forecast in the coming days.