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Canada

Year-Round Focus: Ensuring Wildfire Prevention

Derrick Forsythe, an information officer with the Alberta government, cautions against the assumption that snow on the ground eliminates wildfire risks. Contrary to expectation, wildfires can ignite at any time of the year. In fact, February witnessed the onset of the first wildfire of the year, underscoring the importance of preparedness irrespective of the season.

The threat of wildfires hinges on multiple variables, primarily the moisture content of fine fuels like leaves, needles, and small twigs. Historically, Alberta faces its highest wildfire hazard during spring, post-snowmelt and moisture evaporation, but before vegetation undergoes significant growth (green up).

Monitoring the spring forecast becomes imperative, with rainfall between March and May significantly mitigating wildfire risks. Forsythe stresses the necessity of vigilance, especially considering the surge in human-caused wildfires during spring, attributed to warmer, drier weather and increased outdoor activities.

Human negligence remains a significant contributor to wildfire incidents, with over 60% of Alberta’s wildfires last year being human-caused. Collective responsibility is crucial in curbing these preventable disasters, with everyone urged to exercise caution, whether extinguishing campfires thoroughly or being mindful of activities like off-highway vehicle usage and agricultural burning.

Wildfire season spans from March 1 to October 31 in Alberta, necessitating fire permits for various activities, including residential, industrial, or agricultural debris burning. Residents in the Forest Protection Area can acquire permits from their local forest area office, while those outside this jurisdiction should consult their municipality for permit requirements.

For further information, individuals can reach out to the Provincial Information Officer via phone at 1-866-FYI-FIRE (394-3473) or toll-free at 310-0000 within Alberta. Alternatively, inquiries can be directed via email to wildfireinfo@gov.ab.ca.

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