The wildfire season in Alberta has officially ended.
This season, there were 177 wildfires in the Slave Lake Forest Area of which 76 were human-caused, representing 43 per cent. In the province of Alberta, 705 of the 1,254 wildfires that burned in the Forest Protection Area – or 56 per cent – were human-caused.
On average, the total number of human-caused wildfires in Alberta has been declining in the past five years. Firefighters commend your efforts and ask that you continue to follow all precautions to reduce these preventable wildfires.
Firefighters do respond to wildfires, even in the winter. If you spot a wildfire report it by calling 310-FIRE.
From November 1st to February 28th fire permits are not required for burning in the Forest Protection Area. Even though a fire permit is not required, you are still responsible for any fires you ignite outside of the wildfire season.
Firefighters are urging everyone to use caution when burning this winter as holdover fires are likely to occur. With the lack of rain in the late summer and fall, the conditions in the ground are extremely dry. This means a fire will dig in and burn deep in the ground, under the snow all winter long. Under the right conditions, these fires can re-emerge in the spring as wildfires.
Take the time to properly prepare your burn site. Know the requirements needed to be successful during your burn and how to properly extinguish your site.
Before You Burn
- Winter burns should be conducted in areas with sufficient snow cover of more than 15 centimetres and burns must be monitored the entire time.
- Ensure smoke warning signs are in place before burning within half a mile (800 m) from a roadway. For more information on smoke management and to acquire signs, contact your local municipality. If you are outside of a municipality, contact Alberta Transportation.
- Read over the Recommended Practices for placement and instruction of a “Smoke Ahead” sign.
- Have someone monitoring the burn the entire time – if it escapes, immediately report it to 310-FIRE.
- Only burn what you can control with the equipment and people you have available, and adjust your burning according to .
- Build it right. Brush piles or debris windrows should be free of soil, built to a maximum height of 3 metres, and with a fireguard or cleared land around it to stop the spread of fire.
- Spread remaining material within the pile and soak with water as required.
- Check 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.
The lower fire hazard in winter is a safer time to consider doing your burns. There are still some necessary precautions to take before burning, like monitoring the weather to ensure smoke from your burn won’t negatively impact surrounding areas.
On particularly cold winter days, inversions and other weather factors can cause smoke from a winter burn to stay close to the ground and travel great distances. An inversion happens when cold air is trapped near the ground by a layer of warmer air above it. Inversions can cause dangerous driving conditions and impact nearby communities.
When burning in winter:
- Refrain from burning when an inversion is in place or is forecasted.
- Consult local municipalities and authorities on how to mitigate impacts when undertaking larger winter burning projects near communities or road ways.
- Actively manage burn projects to reduce disposal time and smoke impacts.
- Burning debris in stages will allow you to adapt to changing weather conditions and reduce smoke.
- Monitor weather conditions: lower temperatures and lighter wind speeds can result in stronger inversions. The ideal conditions for burning are typically days with average temperatures and wind speeds over 5 km/h.
- Ensure good snow cover in the burn area (more than 15 cm).
Safe burning practices are always in season – don’t let your winter burn come back to life in the spring.
We’re recruiting for the 2023 wildfire season! If you are interested in demanding but rewarding seasonal work, joining our team as a wildfire crew member may be for you. Check out the requirements here: wildfire.alberta.ca/recruitment
The new wildfire dashboard provides up-to-date wildfire information at the click of a button. This interactive tool displays important statistics on the number of active wildfires in the province, sizes, locations, suspected causes and more. The dashboard builds on the former wildfire status map by displaying the most frequently accessed information in one convenient location.
Download the Alberta Wildfire app today and get access to accurate, real-time information on wildfires in your area. You can also find information on fire advisories, restrictions and bans across the province and much more all on your mobile device.
Subscribe to the Slave Lake Forest Area Wildfire Update to receive an email when new information is posted.Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Unless conditions change you can expect your next wildfire update on December 1st.
If you have any questions please contact:
Wildfire Information Officer
- Alberta Wildfire
- Alberta Fire Bans
- FireSmart in Alberta
- Alberta Emergency Alerts
- Air Quality Health Index
- Wildfire Smoke and Your Health
- 511 Road Reports
- Emergency Preparation