Fort McMurray Area Update

Fort McMurray Forest Area Wildfire Update - November 01, 2021

Posted on Mon, Nov 01, 2021

The Fort McMurray Forest Area is entering the fall and winter under very high to extreme drought conditions. Historically these drought conditions have provided an opportunity for holdover fires from winter burning to resurface in the spring.

It is still important to continue to do your part to prevent wildfires. At this time of year, areas of dead grass can become dry and flammable. Firefighters urge everyone to use caution when working or recreating in grassy areas and to report wildfires immediately by calling 310-FIRE (3743).


End of wildfire season

WINTER BURNING

From November 1st to February 28th fire permits are not required for burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Although a fire permit is not required you are still responsible for any fires you ignite outside of the wildfire season. If you are planning on burning debris this winter it’s important to keep safe burning practices top of mind.

If you plan on conducting any winter burning, the current conditions will support holdover fires which can resurface in the spring.

Prepare the site:

  • Choose a location that is on high ground and so the pile can be 25 meters or more away from structures and standing trees. 
  • Surround the pile with a fireguard that is at least 15 meters wide on top of bare mineral soil.
  • Ensure the pile is clean of dirt so it can burn cleanly and quickly. 

Report your site:

  • Before burning, notify your local forest area: your start and end dates, description of materials to be burned and the legal land description.
  • Signage - check with your local municipal office and/or roadway maintenance company to ensure notification systems are in place. 
  • Check the weather forecast before you ignite:
    • Check the wind speed - burn only when the wind speed is less than 15 kilometers per hour.
    • Check for the potential of a temperature inversion. In the case of an inversion, smoke can be trapped at the ground level where it can cause health and/ or driving
  • Safe burning practices:
    • Have someone on site monitoring the burn the entire time - if it escapes, immediately report it to the local forest area office. 
    • Have adequate tools, water and equipment on site when burning.
    • Only burn what you can control with the equipment, people and weather conditions you have available.

After you burn:

  • Spread out the remaining material within the pile.
  • Soak the area and ensure both heat and smoke are no longer being produced by the pile - it should be cool to the touch.
  • Check your burn site multiple times in the following weeks to ensure it has not reignited.
  • If you have any questions about proper burning procedures, visit wildfire.alberta.ca or phone 310-0000.

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CAMPFIRE SAFETY

As we move into the fall months OHV use and hunting activity increases. This is the time of year when firefighters find abandoned campfires that we believe were left unintentionally by recreationalists and hunters. It’s very important to know that all campfires must be fully extinguished no matter what time of year it is. A campfire built on top of snow can easily smoulder in the debris underneath for weeks and even months, and re-ignite when the wind picks up or the conditions are favorable, which could cause a wildfire. This makes it important to continue to do your part to prevent wildfires.

When you’re planning your campfire, choose your site carefully:

  • Hard-packed mineral soil or gravel is best.
  • Scrape away any flammable material and use extra care around dead grass.
  • Keep your fire small and protected from the wind.
  • Ensure your campfire is completely extinguished before you leave. Spread the burning material to reduce the heat. Soak it with water or snow, stir up the ashes and soak it again. Use your bare hands to feel for heat. If the ashes feel cold then the campfire is fully extinguished.

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OHV SAFETY

You can reduce the risk of your off-highway vehicle causing a wildfire by following these simple steps:

  • Before you ride, clean out hot spots and remove debris from your machine.

  • After riding through muskeg or tall grass, stop and remove any build-up from your machine.

  • Carry firefighting equipment such as a small shovel, collapsible pail or fire extinguisher.

  • Wash your quad, trike or bike and keep it clean; do not wash in streams and creeks.

  • Make sure your muffler and spark arrestor are working properly.

  • Stop frequently. Take the time to knock debris from your machine’s hot spots. If the debris is smouldering, soak it, stir it, and soak it again to make sure it’s out.


For more information, please contact: 

Provincial Information Officer

780-420-1968

wildfireinfo@gov.ab.ca

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