It’s forest fire season in Ontario. If you see flames or smoke, call 911 if you're south of the French and Mattawa rivers, or call 310-FIRE (3473) if you're north of these rivers.

You are responsible for the fires you start. Be careful to only start a fire when the conditions allow the fire to burn safely and remember to extinguish it correctly. If you cause a wildland fire, you could be charged under the Forest Fires Prevention Act and may be held responsible for the cost of putting out the fire. 

Before starting a fire, remember that:

  • during hot and dry weather, sparks and embers can start forest fires
  • we investigate all forest fires to determine the cause

Safe campfires

Follow these easy steps to build a campfire safely.

1. Choose a site

  • Pick a site close to a water source and sheltered from the wind.
  • Build your fire on bare rock, bare dirt or other non-combustible material (mineral soil).
  • Build your fire at least one metre away from any flammable materials.
  • Make sure the space above the fire is at least three metres from overhanging branches and vegetation.

2. Prepare the site

  • Clear a space about two metres wide for the fire.
  • Remove pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs.
  • Scrape the area right down to the mineral soil.
  • Ensure you have a pail of water and a shovel to control the fire.

3. Build your campfire

  • Keep your fire small to a maximum of one metre high and one metre wide.
  • Remember that small fires are safer, easier to control and easier to put out.
  • A small fire will also keep cooking tools from blackening and let you get close enough to cook.

4. Stay nearby

  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Remember that you are responsible for tending your campfire, ensuring it is kept under control, and for putting it out.

5. Put the fire out

  • Pour lots of water on the campfire.
  • Stir the ashes with a stick.
  • Pour more water over top of the campfire.
  • Stir the ashes with a stick again.
  • Repeat until:
    • the ashes are cold to the touch
    • the ashes don’t hiss
    • the ashes look soaked
    • no more smoke comes from the ashes

Safety tips for kids

  • Always ensure children are with an adult when they are around a fire.
  • Never allow children to play with matches or fireworks.
  • Teach your children to tell an adult immediately if they see a fire burning out of control.
  • Learn more about fire safety from Smokey Bear, including tips on preventing wildfires, and games and activities for kids.

Shore lunch fire safety

There’s nothing like fresh fish cooked over an open fire, unless it turns into a wildfire! While fishing or enjoying the day in your boat, remember to follow these campfire safety tips. A wildfire can affect fish and wildlife habitat along a shoreline and can be very expensive to control.

During the summer season, Ontario experiences an average of at least one wildfire every day caused by an unextinguished or unattended campfire.

On average, more than 200 wildfires are caused every year by recreational forest users, such as:

  • anglers
  • campers
  • berry pickers
  • canoeists
  • hunters
  • picnickers

If your shore lunch fire escapes and starts a wildfire, you can be held responsible to pay for the suppression costs and/or damages it caused.

If you have a shore lunch fire, remember the rules:

  • Build the fire on bare soil or rock in a location sheltered from the wind.
  • Make sure the fire is a safe distance from all flammable material, including overhanging branches.
  • Keep the fire small and tend it at all times.
  • Put out the fire when you are done. Soak it with water, stir the ashes and soak it again. Repeat until the ashes are cold to the touch.

ATV safety tips

ATV’s start wildland fires every year. Debris and grass build-up on the ATV can heat up, fall off, and ignite dry grass or the forest floor. You can help reduce the risk.

When riding your ATV in the outdoors, follow these safety tips:

  • secure dragging parts and trailer chains
  • check tire pressure for exposed rims
  • keep your machine clean
  • maintain brakes to prevent metal-to-metal contact
  • avoid operating vehicles on dry grass
  • stop often to check for and remove debris build-up
  • ensure that exhaust systems are free and clear of flammable material
  • ensure your ATV has a proper spark arrestor
  • always give time to let your machine cool
  • pack a shovel, collapsible pail or fire extinguisher in case of fire


The Forest Fires Prevention Act states:

No person who discharges a firearm, a flare, fireworks or explosives in or within 300 metres of a forest area shall leave any residue from the discharge unextinguished."

If you are hunting, remember that:

  • smoking is prohibited while walking in a forest area
  • all smoking material must be properly extinguished
  • if you discharge a firearm, you are responsible to ensure residue is extinguished

Contact your local municipality for any municipal bylaws regarding the use of firearms.


Fireworks are a fun way to celebrate special occasions. If you set off fireworks, you’re also responsible if they cause a wildland fire. The Forest Fires Prevention Act states:

No person who discharges a firearm, a flare, fireworks or explosives in or within 300 metres of a forest area shall leave any residue from the discharge unextinguished."

Also, remember to check any municipal bylaws regarding the use of fireworks in your area.

To stay safe, we recommend you:

  • attend an organized fireworks venue instead of setting off your own
  • choose a fire safe area to ignite fireworks that is free of flammable materials
  • launch fireworks over an area free of flammable material, such as gravel or a body of water
  • have fire suppression equipment on hand
  • check the area for any hot residue and ensure it is put out when completed