Whitecourt Area Update

Whitecourt Forest Area - Very High Wildfire Hazard - May 22, 2017

Posted on Mon, May 22, 2017



Today we will see the warm, dry weather pattern continue. The wind is forecast to be south west in direction at 20 kilometres per hour; keeping the wildfire hazard at very high for the Whitecourt Forest Area. Under these conditions a wildfire will start easily and spread quickly becoming hard to control. 

Areas of dry grass and woody debris can create a significant wildfire hazard, if you are working or using the forest for recreational activities, take the extra time to prevent wildfires. If you see smoke in the forest call 310-FIRE(3473).



There are currently zero active wildfires in the Whitecourt Forest Area.

Since the start of the 2017 wildfire season, there have been five wildfires that have burned 0.28 hectares in the Whitecourt Forest Area.

For information on the wildfire situation across the province of Alberta, visit wildfire.alberta.ca



  • Selecting a site - in campgrounds or recreational areas, use the designated stoves, rings or fire pits. In the backcountry or where a designated receptacle isn't available, use sites that are clear of dry grass, bushes, leaves, over hanging branches, tree trunks and peat moss. Build campfire on level ground that is sheltered from the wind and near a source of water.

  • Never leave a campfire unattended - a campfire can escape and start a wildfire if no one is watching it. Watch for sparks and escaped embers - quickly extinguish them.

  • Extinguishing a campfire  - soak it, stir it, soak it again - let the fire burn down, spread the embers within the pit then add water or loose dirt. Stir it around to expose any material that is still burning and then add more water or dirt. Don’t bury your fire because it can smolder underground and reignite into a wildfire.  You’ll know your fire is out, when you don’t feel any heat coming from the ashes.  

A fire permit is not required for a cooking or warming fire in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta but you need to know that as of March 1, 2017 leaving a campfire unattended will result in a fine under the Forest Prairie and Protection Act.

If an individual does not properly extinguish a fire and it starts a wildfire they can be charged up to $100,000 or face imprisonment for up to two years. Read more here.



Exhaust systems can heat up to temperatures in excess of 204 degrees Celsius - hot enough to fry an egg, melt your pants or start a wildfire. At these temperatures, grass, moss, branches or other debris that have built up on your machine can heat up, smoulder and ignite - fall off the machine and start a wildfire.

Prevent a wildfire:

  • Remove debris - keeping your machine debris free by checking it before, during and after a ride.
  • Strategic parking - park your OHV on bare mineral soil if possible, do not park it in areas of dead, dry grass. 
  • Exit and check - when possible, drive out on the path you drove in on. This will help you check for fires that may have started.

Image: Stopping during a ride to clean off an OHV - using a bucket keeps our streams clean.



As of March 1, a free fire permit is required for all burning (except for campfires) within the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Get started by calling:

  • Whitecourt patrolman at 780-778-1590 or
  • Whitecourt Fire Centre at 780-778-7272

As of March 31, 2017 new penalties now exist for failure to produce a fire permit when requested by a forest officer, read more here.



Enhancements were made to the Forest and Prairie Protection Act (FPPA) regulations on March 31, 2017. Learn about the changes and the associated fines here.


Unless conditions change, your next wildfire update will be on May 23, 2017.

Shannon Stambaugh
Wildfire Information Officer
Whitecourt Forest Area
Mobile: 780-706-5336
Email: shannon.stambaugh@gov.ab.ca

Stay current on Alberta's wildfire situation, download the Alberta Wildfire mobile app for Android or Apple products. You can also join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
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