FREDERICTON (GNB) – The 2020 forest fire season in New Brunswick is underway and ends Oct. 31.

The mandatory order issued under the state of emergency due to COVID-19 that had banned all open fires has been lifted. However, burning restrictions may still be in place in some areas based on ground and weather conditions.

As of today, May 1, all counties remain closed for burning. Restrictions for areas where burning is regulated by the province are updated at 2 p.m. each day. Current burning restrictions and the Provincial Forest Fire Summary are available online.

Under the Forest Fires Act, if you ignite a fire on forest land, you are responsible for it. If your fire gets out of control, you may be liable for the cost of fighting the fire and/or damage to another person’s property. You may also face criminal penalties for violating burning regulations.

Anyone igniting a Category 1 fire (fires with a diameter of three metres or less) should ensure burning is allowed in that area. This can be done by calling the toll-free burn line at 1-866-458-8080 or by visiting the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development website.

Category 2, 3 and 4 fires require a written permit. Applications are available at the department’s district offices.

Burning grass is considered a Category 4 fire. People who deem it necessary to burn grass must submit a written burn plan to the department, have an inspection beforehand, and then receive a written permit.

During fire season, anyone who conducts an industrial operation on forest land must possess a valid work permit that specifies the required fire equipment and the location of the operation. Permits can be obtained at any of the department’s district offices at no cost to the applicant. Inspections will be conducted by officers throughout the season to ensure compliance with industrial operations.

Cities, towns and some villages have bylaws that restrict burning. It is the public’s responsibility to understand and follow these bylaws.

Details on other burning permits are available at the nearest office of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development or by calling, toll-free, 1-866-458-8080.

Because of concerns related to COVID-19, the government is offering essential services only at this time. All offices of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development are closed until further notice. To obtain a permit, call your local district office and follow the instructions provided by voicemail.

In 2019, 182 fires burned 228 hectares of forest land in New Brunswick. Forest land includes any land outside the boundaries of a city or town, not cultivated for agricultural purposes, on which trees, shrubs, plants or grass are growing. It also includes blueberry fields and peat bogs.