Prime fire season for the Backlands coming up 30Apr2024

Leading edge of burnt barrens, Lower Mud Pond area on May 4, 2009

The Spryfield Fire of 2009, which burned about 2/3 of the Backlands, destroyed 8 homes and damaged 10 others, occurred April 29-May 1, 2009.

Fire Season in NS: April to October

Fire season in Nova Scotia is considered to be April to October. Generally we expect May to be the busiest fire season.

The frequency of fires changes throughout the fire season (April to October). May is usually the busiest month due to the fact that vegetation hasn’t fully come out of dormancy and begun to grow. The moisture content of these fuels is low, making them are more flammable. This is known as a “before green up” condition  – NRR: Wildfire (accessed 15May 2022)

Fire break on the Seven Mile Lake fire made by heavy equipment to remove all combustible material down to bare mineral soil. (Donna Crossland)” View CBC report (Aug 17, 2016)

With increasing droughtiness  during our summers and sometimes well into fall, we are seeing more fires in the summer and fall seasons.  These later  fires can be more damaging than in the spring  and much more difficult to control. Spring fires,  while they may burn all above-ground vegetation, burn only the very surface of the soil as most of the soil is still water saturated. But following prolonged drought in late summer/fall, the soil can dry out right down to the bedrock; then a forest  fire will burn organic materials well below the soil surface and can continue to smoulder below-gound even after the fire above-ground has been extinguished.

So we need to be on the lookout for fires all through the fire season (April to October), and especially in the Backlands.

Advice to hikers that I heard recently  on CBC was to check the fire index before setting out, and if you see a fire to note its location, report it ASAP, and  get out as quickly as possible.

More nuanced and very useful, potentially life-saving advice on what to do if you see a fire is offered by Katie on Outdoors and On the Go; or view the text only here.

Recent campfire residues on the Jack Pine-Crowberry barrens, May 2, 2016.

Needless to say – 0r perhaps it needs to be said (re: photo at left):  setting fires of any sort in the Backlands should be a no-no.

The photo  shows campfire residues on  Jack Pine-Crowberry barrens, viewed on May 2, 2016. As well as being immediately hazardous – the campfire was set in the most flammable area of the Backlands and at a time of year especially prone to fire –  the not-cleaned-up residues convey the message: “It’s OK to have campfires here”. It isn’t!

Wishing everyone Safe Travels in the Backlands, Anytime!

 david p

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