Firefighters in Hsinchu reported that they responded to more than 40 brush fires over the four-day Qingming holiday weekend. They blamed the high number of incidents on the drier-than-normal winter and recent windy days, according to Apple Daily.
During the Qingming holiday, or Tomb Sweeping Day, residents clear weeds from their ancestors’ graves. In many cases, the plants are burned away, but the dry weather caused fires to spread out of control, the Hsinchu City Fire Bureau (新竹市消防局) said.
Between April 1 and the afternoon of April 4, the local Fire Bureau responded to more than 40 calls of brush fires in cemeteries across the city.
The Fire Bureau has been pushing public safety slogans to prevent such incidents and relieve the stress on its firefighters. The bureau reminds residents to:
- Do not burn the weeds
- Do not discard lit cigarette butts
- Do not openly burn joss paper
- Do not set off fireworks
The bureau also reminds residents to extinguish any fires or joss paper products when they’ve finished and to not leave any embers when they depart from the cemetery. While the bureau says that such incidents are more common during the Qingming holiday, it hopes residents will be more careful throughout the year as the drought continues.
The National Fire Agency said that 1,400 fires, caused by firecrackers or small fires to clear brush, were reported across Taiwan during the holiday weekend.
Earlier this week, the Water Resources Agency said that the drought in Taiwan is the second-worst in 70 years. In some parts of Taiwan, water rationing has been initiated.