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Man who ignored fire ban caused 10-acre grass fire trying to burn a stump

File photo

File photo

A man who thought he could just have a small fire to burn a stump will pay large for a what turned into a grass fire that consumed 10 acres and threatened nearby properties.

“Nobody has to burn,” said Prince Edward County Fire Chief Scott Manlow, who first issued the County-wide burn ban on July 2. “People need to understand the seriousness of how dry it is and how fast even a small fire can get out of control.”

Last Saturday afternoon about 30 firefighters and six trucks responded to a number of 911 calls about the out-of-control grass fire at Royal and Lighthall roads in South Marysburgh. They were on the scene from about 2:30 to 6 p.m. fighting and controlling the blaze, then watching for hot spots.

The stump remains.

“We were lucky the wind was out of the east and didn’t jump the road, so we were able to stop it,” said Manlow.

Careless fires result in fines of $450 per truck for the first hour and $225 each hour following, plus the wages of the firefighters.

“We started the fines four years ago with the support of council,” said Manlow. “I understand some people get upset about it. I understand it’s tourist season and the campers are coming and want to roast some marshmallows but it’s just too dry.”

Sandbanks Provincial Park is under no obligation to enforce the municipal ban but does so for safety reasons. Large “fire ban” signs have been in place all over the County and media reports of grass fires have continued all month.

“Even without the notices, people should have the common sense to know it’s very dry and they should not burn. People need to understand the seriousness of how fast fire can travel.”

Three days earlier firefighters were on the scene of a large grass fire in Hillier in the Closson Road area where the blaze spread quickly over five acres. Earlier in the week firefighters put out a grass fires caused by farm machinery, and a lawnmower.

The fire chief says it raises the hair on the back of his neck to even imagine the devastation of property and lives if there was a fire at a trailer park in these tinder dry conditions.

“You look at a park where there’s upwards of 800 trailers. A spark would start the domino effect – plastic, fibreglass and propane tanks, cars parked. That’s just scary, and on top of it – most important – the possible human loss, of civilians and firefighters.”

Getting to almost calls over this past weekend he said was also a challenge due to heavy traffic, and negotiating past drivers who sometimes don’t pull over, or who panic and don’t realize they should pull over to the right and stop – for the fire trucks, and the volunteers using flashing green lights in their vehicles.

There’s no relief in sight as the hot and dry conditions continue. The fire chief expects a week of substantial rain will be needed to lift the ban. Rain fell in Belleville today for about 20 minutes but Environment Canada’s forecast for the County doesn’t call for rain until next Wednesday. UPDATE: Chance of thunderstorm, Friday.

A heat warning is in force for today and Friday for the County and most regions in southern Ontario. Daytime temperatures will reach low 30s with afternoon humidex values in the mid to upper 30s. Overnight lows will be near 20 degrees C.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Don says:

    Yeah, cars don’t come with ashtrays anymore…. My Mazda came with an ashtray that fits into the cup holder in the centre console…. and a 2 second search at Canadian tire gives this:

    There is no excuse to throw your butts out the window other than being a slob.

  2. Rhonda says:


    Why are you getting so worked up? Sandbanks does have fire ban on! See

    Although they don’t technically have to comply with the county by-laws and regulations because they are provincially owned and thus not under the county’s jurisdiction doesn’t mean they don’t respect common sense things like fire bans… 🙂

  3. Marnie says:

    If they are smokers maybe they should have the decency to put a receptacle of some sort in their vehicles. There is no excuse for tossing butts out the window in a drought. Talk about silly – that raises the bar for stupidity.

  4. Fred says:

    Now that’s just silly. One can leave garbage in a car until they get to a receptacle. Just a tad harder to save a lighted tobacco or cannibis product. Everyone unfortunately doesn’t carry a tobacco or marijuana disposal receptacle. Thus the need for an ashtray.

  5. Marnie says:

    Not putting ash trays in cars these days is no excuse for tossing butts out the windows, Fred. I guess because there are no garbage cans in cars that makes it okay to throw trash on the roads.

  6. hockeynan says:

    Speaking of bulk water, I heard today that a security company from Belleville comes and picks up the money. That sounds really profitable to me.Half the days intake is gone already.

  7. Gary says:

    I know they pay. LOL. Just want to see them pay enough to cover the costs and that this use does not impact the urban taxpayer. That’s reasonable.

  8. hockeynan says:

    Gary,They are not giving the water to the bulk haulers. They pay for it too and not a drop goes down the sewer

  9. Rod says:

    Sandbanks Provincial Park is under no obligation? What? You would think that since the “park” is in the “municipality ” that it would have to abide by the rules of the municipality, especially where something as damaging or life threatening as a fire. A total burn ban means a total burn ban! If one of our tourist friends burns down the park and destroys neighbouring homes because he can have a campfire in the “park”, he at least has a home to go home to. Oh, and by the way, there will be no more campers as there will be no more park. Which also explains the morons in the park lighting off fireworks now too. Stupid is as Stupid does.

  10. April says:

    VMary says:
    Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016 at 6:20 pm
    Why is the Provincial Park “under no obligation to enforce the ban” ?

    Sandbanks is provincially owned land. And though within PEC thry are not governed by the county. So they follow provincial regulations. So technically they do not have to comply with county bylaws and fire bans etc.. but they are wise to be enforcing it anyway.

  11. Fred says:

    Average calculations given the penalty costs provided would be a fine of roughly $12,600.

  12. Mel says:

    Meanwhile everyone’s lawns on Rednersville road are looking lush and green… Burn bans are great but my goodness maybe they can send all that extra stuff where it matters. Is that a thing? It should be a thing.

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    I bet when this guy woke up last Saturday, he didn’t have a grass fire on his mind – but only that he wanted to get rid of a stump that has probably been bugging him for awhile. Set it on fire and let nature do the rest, while he sat back had a beer and watched the smoke drift away into the blue sky. This poor guy just had no idea of what potential monster he was about to set loose. Sure he should have thought it through better, but who isn’t guilty of such stupidity and have gotten away with it? – somehow, thank God! The guy made a big mistake, but let up on the head bashing. Fine the guy, but remember he too might not be able to afford a huge penalty. It is called being humane to a neighbour. Other than dry grass, what else got hurt? Nothing.

  14. Gary says:

    I hope the huge stressors that bulk water haulers are placing on the urban water system are being appropriately recovered. We all know that rural taxpayers have no financial interest in these costs.

  15. Susan says:

    This dreaded drought will cost us all dearly. Fires are now a grave risk just from vehicles running over the burnt out grass. Major crops and market gardening have pretty much passed being saved. Neighbours are running out of water in a County that is not abundant with ground water to begin with. I am a little surprised that this most serious issue is not on the Council radar.

  16. Fred says:

    Would be nice if an ashtray was an option! Having said that I hope all smokers are careful. Smokers should not be victimized further as many are putting far worse in their body such as our senior women hooked on wine.

  17. Victoria says:

    Okay that was a little harsh, I meant what I said but I didn’t have to be rude about it. Apologies.

  18. Victoria says:

    Then they can put their buts out in a can kept in their cars, it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out how to be proactive and not a stupid arse. Love how smokers think the earth is their ashtray.

  19. Fred says:

    They don’t put ashtrays in cars anymore.

  20. Marnie says:

    What about the idiots who throw their cigarette butts out their car windows onto the dry shoulders of the roads? You just can’t fix stupid.

  21. Fred says:

    I heard today that this is the worst drought in this area since 1941. Little winter snow and no spring rains and virtually nothing since. It is nearing crisis stage. It would probably have to rain for a month to adjust the water table. And the long range forecast calls for this continuing into the fall.

  22. Gilbert says:

    Everything in the County is bone dry. Everything is brown. Farmers are giving up. How far does someone’s head have to be up where the sun don’t shine to miss that burning would be a bad idea?

  23. VMary says:

    Why is the Provincial Park “under no obligation to enforce the ban” ?

  24. Gary says:

    Might have to ban the use of BBQ’s soon.

  25. Jeff says:

    So if he doesn’t pay his it added to his land taxes or are the courts then involved

  26. Theresa Durning says:

    “the stump remains”…..can’t unring that bell…..what an arse!

  27. Jim says:

    Charge and fine him with everything you can. Maybe he’ll learn some common sense.

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