Alberta Readies for 2017 Wildfire Season

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A pink car remains among the ruins of destroyed buildings after wildfires tore through the Waterways area of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada May 5, 2016. Courtesy of Brad Readman/Alberta Fire Fighters Association/Handout via REUTERS
A pink car remains among the ruins of destroyed buildings after wildfires tore through the Waterways area of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada May 5, 2016. Courtesy of Brad Readman/Alberta Fire Fighters Association/Handout via REUTERS
Minister Oneil Carlier with wildland firefighter Ben Bartlett
Minister Oneil Carlier with wildland firefighter Ben Bartlett

EDMONTON – For Alberta, the 2016 Fire Season was one for the record books. A massive fire hit fort McMurray and caused massive damage. The Alberta Government is gearing up for the start of the 2017 Wild Fire Season.

The March 1 beginning of wildfire season is also a reminder to Albertans to be extra careful to help prevent wildfires in forested areas. More than 60 per cent of the wildfires last year were caused by human activity.

A pink car remains among the ruins of destroyed buildings after wildfires tore through the Waterways area of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada May 5, 2016. Courtesy of Brad Readman/Alberta Fire Fighters Association/Handout via REUTERS
A pink car remains among the ruins of destroyed buildings after wildfires tore through the Waterways area of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada May 5, 2016. Courtesy of Brad Readman/Alberta Fire Fighters Association/Handout via REUTERS

“Protecting Albertans from the threat of wildfire is one of our highest priorities. That’s why we legislated March 1 as the start of fire season, recognizing that recent trends show wildfires are starting earlier in the spring. The wildfire that burned into Fort McMurray last year serves as a reminder of how important it is for us to be ready to respond to wildfires at a moment’s notice,”
said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

Last year, 1,338 wildfires burned more than 611,000 hectares, including the Horse River wildfire that spread into Fort McMurray.

The new Forest and Prairie Protection Act increases penalties for abandoning campfires or burning during fire bans and improves the government’s ability to restrict higher-risk activities, such as fireworks and incendiary targets during hazardous fire conditions.

“In the forested area around Hinton, 17 wildfires were started by abandoned campfires last year. These new fines will help bring the economic consequences of being careless when it comes to fires in our forests more in line with the potential real consequences we have seen in the past,” stated Rob Mackin, Mayor of Hinton.

Tips to prevent a wildfire

  • Make sure your campfire is out – soak it, stir it, and soak it again
  • Keep an eye on any winter burning

Report a wildfire

Call 310-FIRE (3473) if you spot a wildfire. These calls ensure fire crews can respond as quickly as possible.

With the start of fire season, fire permits will be required for any burning, outside of campfires, in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. This will allow firefighters to address any winter burning before the spring.  Fire permits are free and can be obtained by contacting your local Alberta Agriculture and Forestry office. Phone toll-free 310-0000 to locate your nearest office.

To learn more about what more you can do to prevent wildfires, go to the Alberta Wildfire webpage or download the Alberta wildfire mobile app for Android and Apple devices.

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