Tough action taken to combat grave-site fires
I refer to the letter from the Green Lantau Association (South China Morning Post, May 19) which suggests that law-enforcement officers should insist that gravesweepers wait until all lit materials are completely extinguished before leaving the grave sites.
Under Section 16 of the Forests and Countryside Ordinance, it is an offence for a person to light a fire in an open area of open countryside unless he shows that he has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the fire from damaging anything growing in such areas. Convicted offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for one year. Burning joss papers carries substantial risk of fire as the burning papers may be easily blown away by wind and ignite dried grass nearby.
Our law-enforcement officers will take rigorous action against anyone found burning joss papers without using a proper container, or leaving the fire unattended.
To make the most of our limited resources, we consider it important to deploy our officers to patrol the countryside as extensively as possible and dedicate efforts to combating improper lighting of fire and burning of joss papers.
During the gravesweeping festivals, special efforts are made to undertake rigorous enforcement action and to publicise the hill-fire prevention messages widely. Since 2000, seven people have been prosecuted for lighting a fire illegally in the countryside. We will continue such efforts.
Task Force on Hillfires