Wednesday, 05 October 2011 11:31

Hot dry conditions make southern Alberta tinder ready

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By Susan Quinlan
Southern Alberta
Given the unpredictable nature of the weather and spells of extreme heat and moisture this past summer, it’s difficult to know whether fire bans are on or off throughout the south. Overall though, conditions are very dry and the public has been advised to be cautious.

“Conditions in southern Alberta right now are hot and dry,” said SRD Wildlife Information Officer Brett Spader.

Spader said the province is on pace with the five-year average of 227 wildfires in the Southern Rockies Forest Protection Area, with 225 fires reported this year. However, the average number of hectares destroyed during the same five-year period was 15.3; this year it is 85.7.

“Abandoned campfires are the major cause of wildfires in the southern Rockies. Human caused wildfires are 100 per cent preventable. People need to take better care of their campfires. In order to fully extinguish a campfire, campers need to stir up the ashes, soak them and stir them again.”

A fireban is currently in place in much of southeastern Alberta, said Spader, and due to the extremely dry conditions, Forty Mile County and Cypress County along with the M.D. of Taber in the southwest have issued fire bans restricting open fires.

When an area issues a fire prevention notice, people can have a fire in an approved fire pit, said Spader, but not random campfires. In addition, issuance of a fire ban generally means all burning permits are cancelled.

Because it’s at the discretion of each county to add its own specific restrictions to a fire prevention notice, Spader strongly recommends the public check the

Alberta Fire Bans website for additional restrictions.

 “It’s because there are different conditions in different parts of the province. We want to be sure people are safe.”

Wind is yet another variable each area takes into consideration, said Spader.

“The thing to note is that conditions change frequently and with little warning.”

Spader recommended with hunting season now in full swing, hunters need to remain extra careful.

“The fire hazard in the southwest Rockies south of Calgary toward the mountains, the fire hazard is high.

“Human caused wildfires are one hundred percent preventable.”

To get the most up-to-date fire ban information for your area, go to the Alberta Fire Bans website ( or phone 1-866-394-3473.

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