Cape Breton fire department warns there could be charges for people who set grass fires
Mark Inglis looks out over the burned-out field just behind his North Sydney home. He says the fire was deliberately set and threatened several properties.
Published Sunday, April 14, 2019 4:15PM ADT
A volunteer fire department in Cape Breton is already so fed up with grass fires, they're threatening to pursue charges for those who set them.
Fires have been starting early and often in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality this spring.
In North Sydney, a homeowner is speaking out after he says a deliberately set fire threatened several properties.
Mark Inglis looks out over the burned-out field just behind his home in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood.
His street was anything but calm Friday night when firefighters were on scene putting out flames that were getting out of control and spreading too close to peoples' homes.
“It's only a couple hundred metres from my house, so I was quite concerned to be honest,” Inglis said. “That it was kind of encroaching on my street and might be getting a little too close for comfort.”
Just down the road, the Florence Volunteer Fire Department was run off their feet all day putting out fire after fire. Some of them were grass fires, but others were burns on peoples' properties that got out of hand.
It all prompted the department to make a frustrated Facebook post at the crack-of-dawn Saturday morning as tired volunteers were heading-out on yet another call.
“For example, last night, we didn't get back to our station until about 1:30 in the morning,” said Adam MacIntyre. “That's after about seven or eight calls throughout the day, and just to hear the tones go off again at 5:30 this morning for another grass fire that went on.”
In their Facebook post, the Florence Volunteer Fire Department is saying “enough is enough.”
From now on, people who burn on restricted days can expect to face charges.
“People gotta be more responsible for their own actions,” MacIntyre said. “It's happened in the past. It happened lots of times that the Department of Lands And Forests and the enforcement officers have been out, and have been charging people.”
In North Sydney, Inglis says last night's close call gave him new appreciation for what volunteer firefighters do.
Not only do they face the dangers of putting out fires like these, but they sacrifice free time and family time which they like to enjoy as much as anyone else because they all have day jobs, too.
“These firefighters are doing this every single day,” Inglis said. “They're putting these fires out, and they're putting their lives on the line, so I think it's absolutely necessary that people are charged.”
While many refer to this time of year as “grass-fire season” in Cape Breton, the Florence fire department says the fact that term even exists reflects the mindset that has to change in order to start dousing this annual problem.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.