High Level Area Update

Help reduce smoke impacts by burning debris safely

Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2022

End of wildfire season


The lower fire hazard in winter is a safer time to consider burning debris. During winter 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. For information on ventilation conditions within the province, visit Environment Canada’s Ventilation Index.

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.


Due to winter burning, there is smoke and hazy conditions in the High Level Forest Area. If you have smoke-related health concerns related, please contact Alberta Health Link at 1-866-408-5465. Information about the air quality in Alberta is available through Alberta’s Air Quality Health Index or by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-247-7333.

Individuals experiencing smoke-related issues can also call Health Link at 811 to speak to a registered nurse.


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.

While burning:

  • 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 weather conditions.
  • 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.

 After you burn:

  • 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.


There are four wildfires in the High Level Forest Area. All of which are classified as undercontrol (UC). For more information or to view wildfires on a map, download the AB Wildfire App or visit the Wildfire Status page. 

Since January 1st, 2022 in the High Level Forest Area (HLFA), there have been 119 wildfires burning a total of 21,761 hectares.



Alberta Wildfire is hiring! We’re looking for hard-working and dedicated people to join our team in a variety of roles for the 2023 wildfire season.

Find out more here: wildfire.alberta.ca/recruitment


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. Available for Apple and Android.

Before heading out, please check albertafirebans.ca to determine whether there are any fire advisories, fire restrictions or fire bans in effect for your destination. 

Subscribe to the High Level Forest Area Update to receive an email when new information is posted. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

wildfire app (2)

For more information please contact,

Victoria Ostendorf | Wildfire Information Officer

Email: victoria.ostendorf@gov.ab.ca

Mobile: 780-841-9387


Read More