Alberta wildfire season opened March 1

Property owners are advised to be cautious with their winter burns. Fires lit in the winter can smoulder under the snow and emerge as a wildfire in the spring when the snow has disappeared and conditions are warm and dry.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The wildfire season in Alberta started March 1 and ends Oct. 31.
“A fire permit is required for any type of outdoor burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta with the exception of a campfire for cooking and warming,” Slave Lake Forest Area wildfire information officer Leah Lovequist says in an email.
Free fire permits are available at local offices of Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development.
For more information, phone the High Prairie office at [780] 523-6619, the Peace River office at [780] 624-6190 or the Slave Lake office at [780] 849-7377.
Anyone doing winter burning is advised to be cautious and make sure their fires are completely extinguished.
“A fire can smoulder under the snow all winter long and emerge as a wildfire in the spring when the snow has disappeared and conditions are dry and warm,” Lovequist says.
“When checking your winter burns, spread around any remaining debris so you can probe the area for hotspots.”
People can use a bare hand to feel the heat over ash piles.
“If you see smoke or feel heat, the fire is still burning. Douse any remaining hotspots with water and stir up the ashes,” Lovequisy says.
A fire is not out until there is absolutely no heat emanating from the ashes.
Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development Minister Nate Horner reminds everyone to be cautious with outdoor burning.
“Our priority is keeping Albertans and our communities safe,” Horner says in a government news release.
“We’re ready for whatever this summer throws us.”
He adds the government strives to improve ways to better prevent major incidents and protect communities.
“We continue to explore new technology and innovative wildland firefighting programs to evaluate what we need in Alberta’s wildfire management tool kit,” Horner says.
Nearly all spring wildfires are human-caused, he notes.
More than 60 per cent of wildfires last year were human-caused.
During the 2021 wildfire season, 1,308 wild- fires burned a total of 52,955 hectares in the provincial FPA.
The wildfire hazard is highest in the spring when fuels like trees and grass can be extremely dry and flammable after the snow melts.
Everyone plays an active role to prevent wildfires. Whether it’s an abandoned campfire, off-highway vehicle exhaust or agricultural burning, Albertans are urged to use caution outdoors to help reduce the number of preventable wildfires.
Fire permits are required during the wildfire season for activities including residential, industrial or agricultural debris burning in the FPA.
Those living or operating a business outside the FPA can phone a local forest area office for a permit.
For those outside the FPA, contact the local municipality to enquire about fire permit requirements.
Keep informed about wildfires by downloading the free Alberta Wildfire app.

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