Due to warm temperatures, wildfire danger has climbed to high in areas with dead, dry grass from Slave Lake to High Prairie and moderate for areas north of Lesser Slave Lake.
Leah Lovequist, the Wildfire Information Officer for the Slave Lake Forest area, says warm temperatures and wind have caused the snow to melt exposing large areas of dead dry grass, which will ignite easily.
“Use caution and report wildfires immediately by calling 310-FIRE(3473),” she says.
Lovequist adds an off-highway vehicle exhaust can reach temperatures of over 200 degrees Celsius. That means it won’t take long for that wet and muddy debris to dry up, start smouldering and fall to the ground as you drive away.
OHV operators can help prevent a wildfire by frequently stopping to remove any build-up of debris from the hot spots on their machines.
A campfire left smouldering can cause a wildfire. Never leave a campfire unattended and make sure it is out. Soak it with water, stir up the ashes and soak it again.
“A campfire is out when the ashes are cool to the touch,” Lovequist says.
Since March 1, 2018, the Slave Lake Forest Area has recorded four wildfires, burning a total of 1.12 hectares.
Alberta has recorded 69 wildfires in the Forest Protection Area that have burned a total of 63.24 hectares since March 1. One of th osde was in Faust on April 26 in Faust, in dead dry grass. Lovequist says the cause is under investigation; however with no lightning she knows it was human-caused.
The fire has since been put out.
Lovequist mentions firefighters are taking advantage of the snow-free conditions and will be burning areas of dry grass in and around many communities in the Slave Lake Forest Area over the next several weeks. She adds burning helps to remove the dangerous build-up of dry grass that becomes prominent in the spring.
Fire permits are required for any burning in the Forest Protection Area, excluding campfires.
To request a free fire permit, contact your local Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Office. For Slave Lake/Red Earth/Trout/Peerless/Loon, the number is 780-849-7377.
For Wabasca, call 780-891-3860 and for High Prairie, 780-523-6619.
“Fire permits help us to track what is burning on the landscape,” Lovequist says.
If a person is burning without a fire permit or outside fire permit conditions, that fire is considered a wildfire.
By getting a fire permit, you help keep our firefighters free to fight real wildfires, instead of responding to the smoke in your backyard.
Hazard-reduction burning continues in the region.