by Morinville News Staff
Wildfire season began on Sunday in Alberta, a month earlier than other jurisdictions. It runs until Oct. 31. The provincial government says research shows wildfires are starting earlier and lasting longer.
The government is urging Albertans to remember that because most spring wildfires are caused by human activity, they are completely preventable.
Last fire season, 989 wildfires burned more than 883,411 hectares in Alberta. Seventy-one per cent of last year’s wildfires were caused by humans.
“Most wildfires are preventable. More than 70 per cent of Alberta wildfires last year were caused by humans – and the McMillan wildfire near Slave Lake was started by arson,” said Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, in a media release Sunday. “We will continue to promote prevention, provide adequate funding and improvements to forest management.”
Out-of-control campfire or a spark from an off-highway vehicle are often the cause of accidental wildfires. Dead and dry grass, twigs, leaves and branches provide fuel for fast-moving grassfires. Whether started by accident or arson, wildfires can cause major environmental damage. While arson is a criminal offence, any unsafe fire-related behaviours can lead to hefty fines or charges for the person involved.
During Alberta’s wildfire season, fire permits are required for any burning except campfires in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Fire permits let firefighters know exactly where planned burning is being done. Permits also help prevent false calls, which ensures firefighters are available for real wildfire response. Fire permits are free and can be requested from any Agriculture and Forestry office.