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What are the penalties for setting a forest fire?

A forest fire. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

Canada has seen a number of massive forest fires in the recent years, often resulting in significant property and environmental damages. This is problematic, as Canada has about nine per cent of the world's forests. 

Forest fires are treated very seriously by the government. They have the potential to threaten and destroy communities and the federal government has created a public awareness system called FireSmart to help communities manage and reduce fire risk. 

All provinces and territories have forest protection act laws in place to protect forests and punish those whose actions result in forest fires and other forms of environmental destruction.

In each province and territory the penalties and punishments for for setting forest fires include both steep fines and possible prison terms. Fines vary from province to province. They can be as low as $1,000, and as high as $1,000,000. Possible jail terms also vary from province to province from a few months to a few years.

A person who starts a forest fire can also be criminally charged for Arson - disregard for human life. The penalty under the Criminal Code is life imprisonment.  

If you have been charged with arson or have been charged under a provincial or territorial protection act, consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Forest Fires

Northwest Territories Forest Protection Act