Dry conditions prompt fire warnings

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Dry conditions in the region are forcing local municipalities to make decisions to prevent fire outbreaks.

M.D. of Smoky River placed a Fire Restriction effective on May 2. This disallows wood campfires on public lands, but still allows safe wood campfires in designated campgrounds or private land, backyard firepits, charcoal briquette barbeques, propane or natural gas-powered appliances, open flame oil devices, and indoor wood fires.

“Ensure to be fire smart,” says M.D. Smoky River fire chief Marcel Maure.

“Keep grass short around your house and delimb tree branches from the ground to six feet up. Don’t play with fire.”

Maure also noted that Alberta Forestry officially placed a fire ban on May 5.

The fire restriction is in effect within the Peace River Forest Area within the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Cities, towns, villages, summer villages, and National Parks are exempt from the restriction. Please note all of these jurisdictions have their own authority to issues restrictions and may also have restrictions in place. You can see where restrictions are put in place by visiting AlbertaFire Bans.ca.

Birch Hills County fire chief Tom Morgan issued a complete fire ban, prohibiting all wood campfires on public and private land including backyard fire pits. All firepits have been suspended and cancelled, and no new permits will be issued until further notice.

Town of Peace River also placed a fire ban on May 5.

Northern Sunrise County fire chief David LeBlanc says the county has been fortunate so far this spring.

“We have only had a grass fire that was started by an electric pole,” says LeBlanc.

“We were able to get to it right away, so it did not spread.”

On May 4, LeBlanc said the department re-evaluated conditions and chose to move up to a Fire Restriction from a Fire Advisory. He notes this restricts the use of quads in forested areas, and only allows for firepits. All burn barrels are now restricted.

“It’s pretty dry throughout the province,” he says. “We’ve never had fire from a backyard firepit, we think people are quite smart with their fires, making sure to have a hose ready and a screen on their firepit.”

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