Prevention begins to ease threat of wildfires

Wildland firefighters will be busy burning areas of dead and dry grass on public land around communities in the Slave Lake Forest Area in the coming weeks in efforts to remove extremely flammable fuel for fire.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Wildland firefighters will be busy in the coming weeks to help prevent wildfires as warmer weather approaches.

Firefighters will be burning areas of dead and dry grass on public land around communities in the Slave Lake Forest Area in efforts to remove extremely flammable fuel for fire, Slave Lake area information officer Leah Lovequist says in a news release March 28.

“Trained firefighters conduct these burns under specific weather condition to ensure the fires are controlled and to minimize the impact of smoke to roadways and communities,” Lovequist says.

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

Work will continue throughout the spring.

“The next several weeks are critical for spring wildfires,” Love- quist says.

“Warm spring weather is causing the snow to disappear quickly, leaving areas of dead grass exposed.”

Any moisture on dead grass, such and rain or dew, dries up after just a few hours of sun exposure and warm temperatures.

When dry, dead grass becomes extremely flammable, she adds. It will ignite easily and fire will spread very quickly even under light winds.

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

“Most spring wildfires are human caused.”

She advises everyone to do their part to prevent wildfires by following several tips.
-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 you local forestry office to request your free fire permit or apply online.

Phone the High Prairie office at (780) 523-6619, the Slave Lake office at (780) 849-7377 or the Peace River office at (780) 624-6191.
-When driving an off-highway vehicle, stop frequently to remove the build-up of debris around the vehicle’s hot spots and carry firefighting equipment like a shovel, a pail and a fire extinguisher on the OHV 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 farm equipment, make sure to clear away any debris from hot spots on equipment and carry firefighting equipment such as a shovel, a pail and a fire extinguisher on your equipment.

For more information, phone Lovequist at (780) 849-0945.

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