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AFCD urges grave sweepers to prevent hill fires
Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (March 29) reminded people paying tribute to ancestors at graveyards in the countryside during the Ching Ming Festival period to exercise caution and prevent hill fires.

An AFCD spokesman said it is an offence under the Forests and Countryside Ordinance (Cap. 96) to burn offerings without considering fire risks or leave behind kindling in the countryside. Any person who contravenes the ordinance may be prosecuted and is liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and one year's imprisonment upon conviction.

The AFCD staff will step up patrols at graveyards in the countryside during the Ching Ming Festival period and take enforcement action against those found in breach of the law.

The majority of hill fires in the countryside are caused by human negligence. Accidents can be prevented if grave sweepers observe some simple guidelines:

* Remove weeds around graves with tools and never burn weeds;
* Burning should only be done inside a container or iron bucket;
* Never leave burning offerings unattended; and
* Make sure all kindling is put out before leaving.

The spokesman said that metal containers for burning offerings properly will be handed out to grave sweepers who have such a need at suitable locations in the country parks during the Ching Ming Festival. The AFCD will also patrol hill fire black spots and distribute hill fire prevention leaflets together with the Fire Services Department, the Police and the Civil Aid Service.

Members of the public are reminded to keep the countryside clean and properly clean up their offerings or rubbish.