October 31 marks the end of fire season, and while the hazard is low it does not mean the risk of wildfire is eliminated. Always fully extinguish your fire before leaving a site and be aware that working and recreating in dry grass is a fire hazard. This year the Grande Prairie Wildfire management area has recorded 49 wildfires burning an area of 10.02 hectares, 8 of these fires were lightning caused while the remaining 41 were human caused fires.
The 2017 wildfire season was relatively quiet with below average numbers. Since March 1, 2017, Alberta has recorded 1,230 wildfires in the forest protection area that have burnt a total of 49,129.55 hectares. What contributed to low number of wildfire? this spring was relatively wet keeping the fire hazard low at a time when it's usually much higher. Also, our fire experts implemented fire restrictions, fire bans and forest area closures across much of the south throughout the late summer and fall months and Albertans respected these restrictions, this all contributed to a low number of wildfires burning.
Permits are no longer required to burn withing the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Albertans living outside the Forest Protection Area can contact their municipality or local authority for more information about fire permit requirements.
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..
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, 2018 when wildfire season begins. Dig deep in the ashes and check for heat.
You can help us over the winter: If you have concerns with a burn you are completing or you would like to report a winter burn location, please give us a call at the Grande Prairie Wildfire Center (780) 538-5560
Smoke and smog
Smoke and smog is not just a summertime concern, it can also occur in the winter, often in communities where wood is used for home heating or residents are burning piles on their land. These pollutants can build up in the local area during cold weather, when there is little wind to disperse the particles. This often occurs during temperature inversions and in valleys and other areas that are sheltered from the wind.
Wind direction is an important factor to take into account when deciding whether to start a burn. Consider what values are downwind of the proposed burn area. If you are close to other residences, communities, farmyards, roads, highways or other properties owned by someone else, take care to ensure that smoke from the fire does not interfere or present harm to those affected downwind.
Check Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index to track winter smog in your community and find health information.
Come join our team!
Skip the morning commute and take a helicopter to work! Apply by November 30 to become a wildland firefighter. Please visit www.wildfire.alberta.ca/jobs for more information on our many seasonal job opportunities.
Get the most up-to-date wildfire information for the entire province by downloading the Alberta Wildfire app for Android or Apple devices.
For more information contact:
Kelly Burke | Wildfire Information Officer
Mobile: (780) 832 7235