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City of Toronto to hold prescribed burn at High Park Friday morning

Fire expected to be ignited around 11 a.m.
April 29, 2022
Joanna Lavoie

A portion of High Park will be deliberately set on fire Friday morning.

Called a prescribed burn, the controlled fire will burn low to the ground and consume dried leaves, small twigs, and grass stems. Larger trees will not be harmed.

Depending on weather conditions, the City of Toronto, will ignite the fire at about 11 a.m.

Drivers should note High Park will be closed to vehicles starting at 7 a.m. tomorrow. Motorists should be able to access the park by the early evening once the smoke has dissipated.

To ensure the safety of park users, pedestrian access to the burn sites and some surrounding areas will also be temporarily restricted.

Staff will be on site through to ensure members of the public keep a safe distance from the burn area.

A contracted “fire boss” with extensive experience in complex prescribed burns to has been retained to create Toronto’s 2022 burn plan and implement it with the help of city staff. Toronto Fire Services and the Toronto Police Service are both aware of the planned burn and will help, if needed.

Typically, smoke from the prescribed burn lifts and does not affect surrounding neighbourhoods, the city said in an April 28 release.

“It is possible, however, that some smoke will reach residential areas near the parks. People with asthma and those highly sensitive to poison ivy should limit their exposure to the smoke by staying inside and keeping windows closed,” they said.

“Some people may choose to leave the general area of the park on the day of the burn, if concerned about the smoke.”

Part of the City of Toronto's long-term management plan to protect and sustain Toronto’s rare black oak woodlands and savannahs, prescribed burns have been safely executed in High Park for almost 20 years.

Before European settlement, controlled burns were employed by Indigenous people as a way to manage and maintain fire-dependent ecosystems like the black oak savannahs in High Park.

Visit the city’s Trees in Toronto web page for detailed information about the prescribed burn and restrictions.