Cool temperatures and snow are keeping the wildfire hazard at LOW for the Whitecourt Forest Area. This is the time you can work on preventing spring wildfires, see below for tips on successful winter burning practices.
LOCAL WILDFIRE UPDATE
Although snow is on the ground, firefighters continue to respond to wildfires in the Whitecourt Forest Area. Since the end of Fire Season (October 31, 2016), firefighters have responded to one new wildfire that has burned just under 0.5 hectares. If you see smoke in the forest, call 310-FIRE (3473).
During the 2016 Fire Season, there were 36 wildfires that burned just over 671 hectares in the area. Only five of these wildfires were lighting caused, the rest were a mix of industrial activity, residential burning and recreation.
Of the 29 human-caused wildfires, many were due to fires that were not properly extinguished during the winter. When the conditions became favorable in the spring, they reignited and became wildfires.
For information on the wildfire situation across the province of Alberta, visit wildfire.alberta.ca.
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL WINTER BURNING
Currently, fire permits are not required for burning within the Forest Protection Area but firefighters still respond to wildfires. Reporting a winter burn site location helps firefighters respond to actual wildfires - not a winter burn site.
Whitecourt Forest Area Office: 780-778-7272.
Prepare the site:
- Choose a location that is on high ground and so that pile can be 25 metres or more away from structures and standing trees. Learn more about properly preparing a burn site here.
- Surround the pile with a fireguard that is at least 15 metres wide - preferably bare mineral soil.
- Ensure the pile is clean of dirt so it can burn cleanly and quickly.
Report your site:
- Prior to burning, notify the Whiteocurt Forest Area of: your start and end dates, description of materials to be burnt 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 kilometres 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 hazards.
Safe burning practices:
- Have someone on site monitoring the burn the entire time - if it escapes, immediately report it to the local Whitecourt 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 coming weeks to ensure it has not reignited.
CHRISTMAS TREE CUTTING PERMIT
To cut your own Christmas Tree on Provincial Crown land, you require a TM66 Forest Product Tag. To learn more about how to purchase this permit, see:
TM66 permits can be purchased from participating Agriculture and Forestry offices and local private vendors. For details, see:
Unless conditions change, your next wildfire update will be on December 23, 2016.
Wildfire Information Officer
Whitecourt Forest Area