The wildfire season of 2014 officially ends today. Unless conditions change you can expect your next wildfire hazard update Spring 2015.
The best time to burn is during the winter when our forest is protected from fire with a blanket of snow. Burning outside of the fire season, especially when snow is on the ground, greatly reduces the chances of a wildfire spreading. This winter remember to visit your burn sites and check for heat. If you see smoke or feel heat the fire is still burning.
Burn piles during the winter months
Debris should be hauled and piled on an existing road or other compact areas to reduce the risk of fires holding over during the winter months. Avoid constructing piles where water drains (example: ditches, streams and creeks).
Keep pile tall, tight and dirt free: to achieve a clean burn avoid mixing mineral soil with the debris. Selecting the right machinery to construct piles, such as a brush rake or loader. Piles should be built to a height of 3 meters in a beehive shape. It may be easier to burn an aspen pile by placing coniferous fuels at the bottom of the pile..
Before burning check the weather: wait for a calm day to conduct burning, winds over 12 Km/h is not recommended. Is there adequate snow cover? and what were the conditions before the snow covered? If drought conditions existed during the fall, the risk of holdover fires in organic soil is high.
Check and re-check for winter holdovers: deep layers of organic soils are common throughout the peace region. This organic material may ignite under debris piles and smolder during the winter months. Wildfires like these are sleeping giants, waiting to takeoff when dry grasses are available to carry them on spring days.
Check all winter burn piles before March 1, 2015 when wildfire season begins. Dig deep in the ashes and check for heat.
For more information about safe burning contact the Grande Prairie Fire Center at (780) 538-5560.
Kelly Burke| Wildfire Information OfficerGrande Prairie Wildfire Management Area780-538-5327 (office) | 780-832-7235 (mobile)