This spring season has been a dry one and both Saskatchewan and Alberta have seen multiple wildfires burning throughout the provinces. In turn, there have been recent fire bans put in place on both sides of the border to help stop new flames from sparking up.
Duane McKay, commissioner of emergency management and fire safety with government relations of Saskatchewan, wants to remind people to respect fire bans that are initiated by both the province and specific municipalities.
“It’s been pointed out that the province is currently experiencing a significant fire risk that is pretty much involving all of the province from north to south,” said McKay. “We have seen a significant increase in the number of fire starts as this spring has been very dry already and we haven’t seen the light spring rains that typically green up the grasses.”
As of May 26, there has been a complete fire ban ordered in the rural municipality of Britannia and in the Britannia-Wilton Fire Department’s protection area of the RM of Wilton, replacing the partial ban that was previously in effect. This complete ban will stay in effect until further notice.
McKay said they have had “in excess of 1,000 fire related calls” to 911 since April, with Saskatchewan’s rapid response teams responding to 22 of those calls in cases where municipalities or First Nations communities asked the province for help in containing them.
Curtis Lee, director of wildfire management operations for the Ministry of Environment, says there have been a total of 224 fires to date in 2015 compared to the 125 experienced last year at this time of the month. If someone in the public wants to do a controlled burn, they are asked to call the controlled burn number at 1-866-404-4911 to let the Ministry of Environment know so it can be monitored.
On the Alberta side, there has bee a full province-wide ban applied in all of the province’s forests prohibiting all open fires, including campfires, in campgrounds or backcountry and random camping sites. According to a press release, portable propane fire pits and gas or propane stoves and barbecues for cooking or heating are still allowed.
All fire permits are suspended or cancelled and no new permits will be issued. The fire ban applies to the province’s forest protection area and jurisdictions outside the FPA, including municipalities and provincial parks, might apply individual fire restrictions.
It is advised to check albertafirebans.ca daily for detailed information about restrictions and locations.
The county of Vermilion River has also been under a total fire ban since May 26, according to their website.
As of May 25, 29 wildfires were burning in Alberta, including a 200-hectare wildfire that forced evacuation of approximately 2,000 residents of Wabasca on Sunday night. Since April 1, Alberta has experienced 629 wildfires that have burned 13,098 hectares. Alberta has deployed more than 1,300 wildland firefighters and approximately 100 aircraft to battle the wildfires.
already underway, and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have sent additional resources to Alberta to assist.