Despite the long standing Canadian tradition of complaining about the weather, this spring has left us with little to moan about. Beginning with Easter weekend we have had some of the best spring weather I can remember for quite some time. Warm temperatures and remarkably very little rain has resulted in the lawns of Russell drying out in record time, it seems that everyone has already cut their lawn at least once and we arenít even out of April yet. The warm spring has also dried the fields and ditches of Russell surprisingly fast resulting in the perfect conditions for grass fires. Fortunately we have had only one call for a grass fire this year, however if the current conditions continue we will likely see more. Until the new vegetation overtakes the dry dead grass it is important for the public in general to help us prevent these fires from happening. Grass fires can seem pretty harmless and it is common knowledge that farmers burn the old growth on their fields to promote new growth, but these burns are done in controlled conditions. A wild grass fire can quickly result in the destruction of homes, vehicles and agricultural buildings. This could also lead to the loss of life for animals or even people. Grass fires if given the right conditions; such as a warm windy day, can spread at an incredibly fast pace, so much so that it may not be possible to stop until the fire has burned itself out by consuming all of the ignitable fuel. However as mentioned, the public can play a large role in preventing these fires from occurring. One of the more common ignition sources is lit cigarettes being thrown from vehicles, this source is likely responsible for most of the roadside fires we experience. Please make a concerted effort not to throw lit cigarettes from vehicles during the spring, it would even be more appreciated if they werenít thrown for the rest of the year also. Bonfires are another concern during the spring, up to now we have not issued a burn ban which would mostly affect farmers, but once again if the dry conditions persist donít be surprised to see one imposed. In the meanwhile, be very carful if you are having a bonfire. Keep it to a small controllable size and be wary of the fire throwing off embers. Only burn dry hardwood and avoid throwing pine or spruce branches onto fires which produce an excessive amount embers. Unlike the City of Ottawa we are allowed to have bonfires on our properties, however there will be little tolerance for careless burning during the dry season, if it is deemed that someone is burning carelessly there will be little hesitation in the issuance of a fine. Enjoy the warm weather this spring but please help us prevent grass fires from happening.
Published in The Villager newspaper - April 28, 2010