Fisheries and Land Resources
September 28, 2018

Fast Action Results in Less Area Burned Despite Increase in Fire Starts in 2018

Fast action by fire suppression crews is ensuring the protection of more forest land in the province in 2018 despite an increase in human-caused forest fires. Forest fire statistics for Newfoundland and Labrador indicate the number of fire starts in 2018 was up compared to 2017; however, less area was burned. These statistics reflect the ever-constant need for vigilance in forest fire prevention.

In 2018, 127 fires burned a total of 392 hectares of forest land. In 2017, there were 80 fires and 699 hectares burned. The provincial 10-year average was 116 fires and 35,324 hectares burned. In 2018, Fisheries and Land Resources fire suppression staff responded to 89 fires in Eastern Newfoundland (335.7 hectares burnt); 27 in Western Newfoundland (14.5 hectares burnt) and 11 fires in Labrador (42.8 hectares burnt).

A short period of higher-than-normal temperatures in April and May led to a rash of spring fires that reflect the hazards of burning grass and brush during that time of the year. This was followed by cooler-than-usual temperatures in June, but higher temperatures in July and August that led to additional fire starts.

Most fires in the province in 2018 – 106, or 83.5 per cent – were less than one hectare in size, indicating that most fires were reported early, and air and ground fire suppression crews responded quickly. The largest fire in the province in 2018 was only 153 hectares and occurred during a long weekend in July. During this same weekend, a fire occurred in the Kenmount Terrace area of St. John’s along the wildland urban interface (WUI). Quick response by air and ground crews and the local fire department prevented this fire from impacting homes and becoming far worse. This fire also served as a reminder of the importance of continuing our efforts to educate communities and property owners on becoming FireSmart.

Along with providing fire suppression services within the province, firefighting staff, incident management team personnel, and the province’s CL-415 air tankers and crews were deployed to Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec in 2018 through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) Mutual Aid Resource Sharing Agreement (MARS). A total of 20 CIFFC request orders were filled in July and August. These deployments provide assistance to those in need in other parts of Canada, and also provide valuable experience to forest fire staff that can be used in our own province.

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“Wildland Fire Management and Coordination staff, duty officers, wildland firefighters, incident management team personnel, and air tankers and their crews have done a stellar job this fire season in protecting our province from forest fires. They have also done us proud by lending their considerable expertise to our friends across the country. As the 2018 forest fire season draws to a close, I extend a heartfelt congratulations and thank you to the dedicated men and women of our fire suppression team, and remind the public to continue to be vigilant when using fire.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources

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Media contact
Linda Skinner
Fisheries and Land Resources
709-637-2284, 632-8167
lindaskinner@gov.nl.ca

2018 09 28                              2:00 p.m.