manage vegetation within 30 metres of your home clear leaves and twigs from roof lines and gutters keep firewood or other piles of wood more than 15 metres away from any structure store gasoline and other flammable liquids and gases in approved containers and away from any occupied buildings. The province is urging homeowners to prepare for the upcoming fire season by helping prevent home and property damage caused by forest fires. In 2008, 248 fires burned 2,721 hectares of Nova Scotia’s forests and wildlands. The main cause of these wildfires were residential fires. Arson was the second leading cause. Last year, a wet spring kept the number of fires down by 36 per cent compared to 2007. However, high winds caused a few fires to spread quickly. “Wind driven forest fires move at an astonishing rate of speed, especially through softwood forests of fir, pine and spruce,” said Natural Resources Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. “They can be extremely difficult or impossible for firefighters to control. “As more communities move into traditional woodlands, we need to remember the role that some simple precautions can play in helping to protect not only our forests but our communities.” Robert Uttaro, supervisor of fire management for the Department of Natural Resources, said homeowners can take the following steps to help protect their homes: “We are also reminding people that burning brush requires a permit to burn during fire season. People should seriously consider burning brush in the winter when it is much safer,” said Mr. Uttaro. Winter burning season ends for many counties on Tuesday, March 31. For more information on how to make your home FireSmart see the checklist at www.gov.ns.ca/natr/forestprotection/wildfire/firecentre/fire-smart.asp . For more information on winter burning, burning permits and wildfires, go to www.gov.ns.ca/natr/forestprotection/wildfire .