Wildfire Update - May 18, 2020
The wildfire danger rating in the Fort McMurray Forest Area is HIGH north of Fort Chipewyan and MODERATE south of Lake Athabasca. The fire ban remains in effect. Cured, dry grass is the largest concern as fires that start can still spread quickly under current conditions.
Since March 1, there have been four new wildfires in the Fort McMurray Forest Area. All fires have been extinguished.There are currently 13 wildfires in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Eight of these wildfires are under control and five have been turned over to the responsible parties.
For more information on the current wildfire situation across the province of Alberta, visit wildfirestatus.alberta.ca.
FIRE BAN IN EFFECT
There is a fire ban in place inside the Forest Protection Area of Alberta, as well as in Alberta provincial parks and protected areas, until further notice.
Fire permits are suspended or cancelled. Some allowances can be made for essential agricultural and industrial burning, but will need to be approved by a forest officer.
- outdoor wood fires on public lands, private land and provincial campgrounds
- backyard fire pits (in the Forest Protection area)
- barbeques that use charcoal briquettes
- fireworks and exploding targets
- portable propane fire pits
- propane/natural gas powered appliances
- open flame CSA approved oil devices
- indoor wood fires inside a structure (such as a facility, building, tent or RV) and contained within a device with a chimney and spark arrestor
** All devices must be CSA approved and used as per manufacturer standards. Users are still responsible for care and attendance of all devices and should reduce their use during fire restrictions and bans. Approved activities or devices will not prevent potential prosecution or litigation if the user or device starts a wildfire.
OFF-HIGHWAY RESTRICTION IN A PORTION OF THE FORT MCMURRAY FOREST AREA
An OHV restriction is in effect for Fire Control Zone 41. Currently, the balance of the Fort McMurray Forest Area is not under an OHV restriction. An OHV restriction in the Forest Protection Area will be reintroduced to other areas if there is an increase in the danger level. We re-evaluate daily.
For the OHV restriction
Fire Control Zone 41 includes:
- Gregoire Lake Estates, Anzac, Draper, Saprae Creek, areas along the Clearwater river to the Saskatchewan border
- areas west of Fort McMurray along the Athabasca river
- Maqua Lake and Engstrom Lake areas
Fire Control Zone 41 does not include:
- Fort McKay
- the Urban Service Area of Fort McMurray
- the Richardson back-country
What is an off-highway vehicle (OHV)?An OHV is a motorized vehicle designed to go beyond defined roadways, including but not limited to:
- side by sides
- dirt bikes
- 4x4 Jeeps
- pick-up trucks
- sport utility vehicles
Anyone found to be non-compliant with the fire ban may receive a violation ticket of $600, and non-compliant with the OHV restriction, a violation ticket of $1200.
The OHV restriction does not apply to private land or agricultural, institutional (educational) or commercial/ industrial use, emergency response, those licensed for the spring black bear hunt or Indigenous peoples who use OHVs for traditional purposes.
These steps are part of a number of actions the department is implementing to help mitigate wildfire risks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking action in advance to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires will allow Alberta Wildfire to make the best possible use of resources when the availability of firefighters could be reduced because of the pandemic.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry will be monitoring conditions, including the availability of firefighting crews and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fire ban will remain in effect until conditions improve.
** If you plan to go off-road outside of Fire Control Zone 41, keep in mind:
- OHV exhausts can get very hot, reaching temperatures of over 200 Celsius, causing debris caught near the exhaust to become superheated. This debris can potentially start a wildfire when it falls to the ground.
- It is crucial for Albertans to stop and check OHVs and the ground for any debris that may have fallen.
- Before you ride, clean any debris that has built up near the exhaust and muffler, under the seat, in wheel wells and around the engine.
- Always carry a small fire extinguisher, a collapsible shovel and water. These tools can help extinguish a wildfire and safely dispose of hot debris.
Please visit AlbertaFireBans.ca for a map of the affected areas.
For more information, please contact:
Lynn Daina, Wildfire Information Officer, Fort McMurray Forest Area
Phone: 1-780-799-9253 or 1-866-394-3473
- 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