It's been a bad season for forest fires in N.B., and it's not over yet

Fires have burned through five times more acreage of New Brunswick forest than the 10-year average and it's only halfway through the season.

With waterfront views of the St. John River, Heritage Country Camping in Lower Queensbury is an oasis for New Brunswickers looking to get away, but COVID-19 isn't the only concern this camping season.

"Very, very, very dry," said co-owner Diann Estey. "We haven't mowed for two weeks. We finally did it yesterday, so we're hoping it doesn't burn out."

The owners say they watch for the burn ban update every afternoon and change signs accordingly.

"We're afraid, even the fires, we tell them, do not build big fires, small fires and that's it, and they've been very patient with us and they've been great campers," Estey said.

There have been 1,166 hectares of New Brunswick forest that have burned so far this season. The 10-year average is about 200.

"We do have some drought conditions when you get down into the lower parts of the ground, and the top layers, we need some rain to get down to that area," said Roger Collet, a wildfire prevention officer with the province of New Brunswick.

He says much of what's burned so far was in the Blackville area. He says about 95 per cent of fires are started by people, but this year, he says about 10 lightning strikes did spark several fires.

He urged caution for anyone having a fire when they are permitted.

"If you're having a fire be extremely careful, we are still getting a couple fires daily," Collet said. "Generally, it seems to be that they just didn't extinguish their fire properly."

The province is under a restricted burn measure and campfires are allowed, but only after 8 p.m.