Despite there still being snow on the ground, wildfire season is now underway.
March 1 is the official first date of the season and provincial crews are working around the clock to make sure they’re prepared to fight any fire that arises.
Last year, there were 92 wildfires in the Fort McMurray Forest Area with 67 caused by lightning and the remaining 25 being human-caused.
According to Area Information Officer for Fort McMurray Forestry Lynn Daina, a total of 1,350 hectares were burned – which was down from 2016 which was at 601,683, mostly due to the Horse River Wildfire.
She adds early forecasts show there will be a lot of precipitation to start the season.
“Up in the northeast corner, we’re looking at an average precipitation and then south of that into the rest of the forest area, we’re at over 100 per cent precipitation.”
When the wildfire season starts, fire permits will be needed for any burning except campfires. Fines will also be handed out to anyone burning without a permit and are the direct cause of a wildfire.
“We are ready, but we need every Albertan’s help. We’re asking everyone to do their part in preventing fires,” said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, in a release.
The province increased the price tag for fines in 2017 – now sitting at $100,000 for anyone caught engaging in behavior that could cause a wildfire, up from $5000. While the fine for corporations is $1 million.