Wildfire season officially begins Mar. 1
By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
According to a recent media release from the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry department, preparations have been underway for the official start of wildfire season, which is Mar. 1.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier noted in the media release as of Mar. 1, fines and penalties will increase for burning activities. Mar. 1, according to the media release, is also a reminder to Albertans to be extra careful to help prevent wildfires in forested areas. The media release stated more than 60 per cent of the wildfires last year were caused by human activity.
“Protecting Albertans from the threat of wildfire is one of our highest priorities. That’s why we legislated Mar. 1, as the start of fire season, recognizing 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,” stated Carlier in the media release.
Last year, according to the media release, 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, the media release pointed out, 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.
Darryl Beaton, Lethbridge County’s emergency services co-ordinator said with the official start of the provincial fire season Mar. 1, Albertans are reminded of how fast fire hazard conditions in the county can change from low to extreme.
“We are also reminded of the damage wildfire can cause when looking back at Fort McMurray, Slave Lake and our own grass fire events of 2011 and 2012,” Beaton said.
Beaton added in the interest of public safety, the county would like to remind everyone to follow regulations in the Fire Permit Bylaw and the Fire Ban Bylaw.
“Please adhere to the conditions on your fire permit and pay close attention to the weather and the conditions of the fuels around you,” said Beaton.
Fire Ban information is current and is posted on the home page of the Lethbridge County website at lethcounty.ca and on the Alberta Fire Ban website at albertafirebans.ca. The Fire Ban Bylaw #1423 and the Fire Permit Bylaw #1424 can be found on the county’s website at lethcounty.ca/government/bylaws. Fire Permits are also available, free of charge, from the home page on the county’s website.
“If you have any questions regarding the regulations or what you can do to help prevent the spread of wildfire, please contact the county Emergency Services Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 403-328-5525,” Beaton said.
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.
According to the recent media release, 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.