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AFCD urges grave sweepers to prevent hill fires
     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (September 30) reminded people paying tribute to ancestors at graveyards in the countryside during the Chung Yeung Festival period to exercise caution against fire risks 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 Chung Yeung Festival period. Enforcement action will be taken against offenders of the regulations concerned.

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

* Remove weeds around the 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 Chung Yeung Festival. Members of the public are also reminded to keep the countryside clean. When leaving, grave sweepers should not leave behind their offerings or rubbish.

     To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the spokesman also appealed to the public to avoid grave sweeping during the peak period on the day of the Chung Yeung Festival. The public must comply with the restrictions on group gatherings under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G). Grave sweepers should avoid meal gatherings at worship sites or in crowded places. They should maintain good personal and environmental hygiene as well as properly dispose of waste and used masks so as to lower the risk of disease transmission.
Ends/Friday, September 30, 2022
Issued at HKT 11:15
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