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Forest fires down in N.L. in 2017 compared to 10-year average

Seventy-three forest fires have burned 699 hectares of land in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017. File photo
Seventy-three forest fires have burned 699 hectares of land in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2017. File photo

There have been 73 forest fires in Newfoundland and Labrador so far this year, resulting in 699 hectares of burned land.

That’s down significantly from the province’s average of 116 fires and 35,324 hectares burned over the past 10 years, according to a news release Wednesday issued by the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.

Eighty-seven per cent of the total area burned this year occurred in one forest fire near Edwards Island in Labrador.

The remaining 13 per cent of forest area burned in the province consisted of small fires on the island and other parts of Labrador.

Seventy-nine per cent of forest fires occurring in 2017 were less than one hectare in size.

“The proactive work of our professional team of forest fire fighters, the ability we now have to notify the public of fire hazard risks in a timely manner and weather conditions have all contributed to the low impact from forest fires experienced in the province this year,” said Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne.

The release noted the department successfully launched new provincial forest fire hazard forecast maps this year.

The online maps are updated daily during the forest-fire season to provide the public with timely information on the risk of wildfire throughout the province.

The below-average forest fire season also allowed the provincial government to make staff and resources available to assist with forest fire suppression efforts in other parts of the country through the Mutual Aid Resource Sharing Agreement.

Eleven forest firefighters and 13 incident management team personnel were sent to British Columbia, while three water bombers supported firefighting efforts in Manitoba and Quebec.

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