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Teen hangout poses fire risk

Burnt plastic, rotting garbage and a polluted stream near Byrnes Lane. – © Ryan King / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By RYAN KING

PORT AUX BASQUES – A couple on Byrnes Lane have been noticing some recent activity near their backyard. In the woods directly behind their property, teens have set up a small clearing in the woods where they have fires. The couple do not know who the kids are, and they are worried that their property could be endangered should the makeshift firepit, which is close to woods and flammable litter, get out of control.

The houses on Byrnes Lane are tightly fitted together, which may prove troublesome for the fire department if they have to battle a blaze in that area.

“There’s no roads,” said Thelma Dominey, one of the residents on the dead end street.

Thelma and her husband, Wilson, moved to their new home last December, but the issue with the fires has been going on since the spring.

The Domineys have contacted the town, the fire department, and the RCMP about the fires, and also reached out to the RCMP when one of the teens was spotted carrying in a pellet gun.

“He (the detachment’s commander) said if they start a fire again to call them,” shared Thelma.

The couple can’t confirm exactly what it is the teens are burning.

“Smoke doesn’t come this way, so we don’t smell it, but we heard them chopping. So I just assume they’re chopping down little bits of wood and burning it. Well that’s what we’re hoping for,” said Thelma.

A search of the clearing revealed scorched garbage and plastics still in the fire pit, plastic tarps ripped and left on the ground, and garbage caught in a stream nearby.

Jerry Musseau, Fire Chief, noted that to have outdoor fires in the town, you need a proper fire pit.

“It’s in the municipality, so if a fire is not into an approved fire pit, I would say as such, it’s not permitted. Even though there’s no regulation with outdoor fires, you still must take safe precautions and it has to be put into an approved contained fire pit.”

Fires in the woods near residential homes present unique dangers.

“It is more dangerous again because the woods, of course, are very combustible. Sparks and a little bit of breeze and wind – it certainly can spread very quickly if it should start to ignite. And of course, being around houses behind Byrnes Lane that you’re referring to, then it is a danger and a concern for the fire department. It could be a small fire that could lead to something very dangerous. And it is not permitted, especially if it could be left unattended,” said Musseau.

When having outdoor fires, a water supply, like a garden hose, should be kept nearby.

“When you do have an outdoor fire in a fire pit, sort of, in your backyard, it’s always recommended that you would have some kind of water supply or something to put the fire out when it’s over. So in the woods I would say that it’s not possible, and also that it is not permitted in a residential area to have those outdoor fires. It’s a danger to everyone in the surrounding areas,” said Musseau.

If residents notice a fire in the woods, Musseau advises them to contact the department.

“Any individuals lighting fires in that wooded area behind any dwellings may face charges should the fire spread to other properties,” noted Musseau.

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