Fuel for the fire

A firefighter burning grass The next several weeks are critical for spring wildfires, says Slave Lake Forest Area wildfire information officer Leah Lovequist and Peace River Forest Area wildfire information officer Todd Lynch.

Dry grass is extremely flammable

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The next several weeks are critical for spring wildfires.

Slave Lake Forest Area wildfire information officer Leah Lovequist and Peace River Forest Area wildfire information officer Todd Lynch advise people to be cautious.

“Firefighters urge everyone to use caution when working or recreating in areas of dead grass,” Lovequist says in an email.

“All wildfires that occur in the spring are human caused and these human caused wildfires are preventable,” Lynch adds.

Warm weather has caused the snow to disappear quickly, leaving areas of dead grass exposed.

“The dead grass is a fine fire fuel,” Lovequist says.

Lynch has other advice.

“This means any moisture such as rain or dew on dead grass dries up quickly, after just a few hours of sun and warm temperatures,” Lynch says.

“When dry, the dead grass is extremely flammable.

“It will ignite easily and fire will spread very quickly, even under light winds.”

Every spring, firefighters burn areas of dead dry grass around communities. Burning is an efficient way to remove this extremely flammable fire fuel. Trained firefighters conduct these burns under specific weather conditions to ensure the fires are controlled and to minimize the impact of smoke to roadways and communities.

Burning these areas of dead grass helps protect communities from future wildfires, by removing the flammable fuel.

Follow these tips to prevent wildfires:

-Go back and check your winter burning. A fire lit in the winter can burn underground all winter long and if not extinguished could re-emerge in the spring when conditions are dry and windy. Make sure your winter burns are out.
-Get a fire permit before you burn. Fire permits are required for any type of burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Call your local Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Office to request your free fire permit.
-When riding your off-highway vehicle, stop frequently to remove the buildup of debris around your vehicle’s hot spots and carry firefighting equipment like a shovel, pail and extinguisher on your off-highway vehicle when riding around.
-Do not park vehicles in tall grass as the hot muffler could ignite the dry grass.
-When using any equipment that may spark, perform the work in areas away from dry grass and make sure to have water and a shovel onsite.
-When using farming equipment make sure to clear away any debris from hot spots on equipment and carry firefighting equipment such as a shovel, pail, and extinguisher on your equipment.

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

For more information, please 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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