Alberta wildfire season opens 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 conditions are warm and dry, says Todd Lynch, new wildfire officer for Peace River Forest Area and Leah Lovequist, wildfire information officer for Slave Lake Forest Area. Above and below are examples of winter burns.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The wildfire season in Alberta starts March 1 despite piles of snow still on the ground.

Fire permits will be required for any type of outdoor burning in the forest protection area from March 1 to Oct. 31.

“A campfire for cooking or warming does not require a fire permit,” Slave Lake Forest Area wildfire information officer Leah Lovequist says.

To request a free fire permit, contact the nearest Alberta Agriculture and Forestry office.

“We request that anyone who wants a permit to phone the local office and a patrolman will come out onsite and see what they want to burn,” Lovequist says.

For more information, phone the High Prairie office at [780] 523-6619, the Peace River office at [780] 624-6190 and the Slave Lake office at [780] 849-7377.

Property owners are also advised to wrap up winter burning.

“All winter burns must be extinguished before the start of the wildfire season on March 1,” says Todd Lynch, the new Peace River Forest Area wildfire information officer.

“If you have conducted any winter burning, go back and ensure your fires are out.”

Local information officers advise people to take extra steps.

“Fires can smoulder under the snow all winter long and emerge as a wildfire in the spring when conditions are warm and dry,” says Lovequist.

“Do your part to prevent wildfires by ensuring your winter burn piles are extinguished.”

When checking your winter burns, spread around any remaining debris so you can probe the area for hotspots.

Use your bare hand to feel for heat over the 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.

A fire is not out until there is absolutely no heat emanating from the ashes.

For more information on the wildfire situation across Alberta, visit the websites at www.wildfire.alberta.ca or www.albertafirebans.ca.

For more information, contact Lovequist by phone at (780) 849-0945 or e-mail to Leah.Lovequist @gov.ab.ca.

Lynch may be contacted by phone at [780] 618-7999 or e-mail to todd.lynch@gov.ab.ca.

To report a wildfire, phone 310-FIRE [3743].

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