Alberta Advances Wildfire Preparedness Declaring 2024 Fire Season Has Started

Wildfire near High Level in Northwest Alberta
Wildfire near High Level in Northwest Alberta

Alberta gears up for the 2024 wildfire season

EDMONTON – Climate – As Alberta faces the aftermath of the 2023 season, the province underscores the critical need for a unified approach to disaster management. With warmer temperatures and lower than average precipitation affecting many areas, the risk of wildfires has significantly increased. In response, Alberta has proactively declared an early start to the 2024 wildfire season, aiming to enhance resource allocation for both new and ongoing wildfires.

One concern of note are “Zombie Fires” which burn underground at many of the major sites of forest fires during the previous season.

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks says, “Alberta’s government will face the coming wildfire season head on, and we will do whatever is necessary to help Albertans and their communities stay safe from the impacts of wildfire. I want to encourage Albertans to remain vigilant and recreate responsibly.”

Alberta Wildfire Implements Proactive Measures Amid Rising Risks

This early declaration enables Alberta Wildfire to implement additional measures, including a fire ban and restriction system, to mitigate human-caused wildfires under the current hazardous conditions. It also necessitates that individuals in the Forest Protection Area secure a permit for any planned burning, further aiming to reduce wildfire risks.

Forestry and Parks Minister Calls for Community Vigilance

Minister Todd Loewen emphasizes the government’s commitment to confronting the upcoming wildfire season and ensuring the safety of Albertan communities. He calls on residents to exercise caution and responsibility in their recreational activities, particularly in or near forested areas.

Budget 2024 Proposes Expansion of Firefighting Forces

In anticipation of the challenges ahead, Forestry and Parks is preparing to bolster its firefighting team. Pending the approval of Budget 2024, the plan includes funding for 100 additional firefighters, equating to five new 20-person crews, significantly enhancing the province’s wildfire response capabilities.

Public Urged to Adopt FireSmart Principles for Wildfire Prevention

Bernie Schmitte, executive director of Alberta Wildfire, stresses the collective responsibility in wildfire prevention. He encourages Albertans to adhere to FireSmart principles, secure fire permits before burning, and stay informed through the Alberta Wildfire app for the latest information on fire bans and restrictions.

As Alberta steps into the 2024 wildfire season, the government urges all residents to actively participate in wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts. This includes taking necessary precautions to prepare properties and communities, being cautious in forested areas, and staying abreast of any fire bans and restrictions to minimize the occurrence of human-caused wildfires, which have historically contributed to over 60% of the season’s wildfires.

With ongoing efforts to enhance wildfire prevention, preparedness, response, and mitigation strategies, including advanced nighttime operations and the use of night-vision technology, Alberta is setting a robust framework to address the challenges of the wildfire season head-on, ensuring the safety and protection of its communities.

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