Wildfire Season Starts Early In Alberta

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Daily News, Environmental News

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The government declared the commencement of the 2024 wildfire season in Alberta earlier than usual. While traditionally starting on March 1, it is now underway, with Alberta Forestry and Parks Minister Todd Loewen citing the lessons from the record 2023 wildfire season and emphasizing the need for a collective approach to disaster management. The decision is prompted by warmer temperatures and below-average precipitation, elevating the wildfire risk across many areas of the province.

wildfire season in Alberta

Loewen emphasized that a permit is now mandatory for any burning within the forest protection area, with fire bans likely to be implemented. Drawing from lessons learned in the previous record-setting fire season, which witnessed a vast 22,000 square kilometers burned—roughly 10 times the five-year average—there’s a heightened proactive stance this year. With additional staffing and the new permit requirement, efforts aim to enhance preparedness and response. The province currently grapples with a total of 54 active fires, including those carried over from the previous year. The ongoing season is anticipated to remain hot, given severe or extreme drought conditions in large parts of Alberta and the predicted continuation of warm temperatures due to the El Nino season.

Loewen reiterated previous commitments to introduce new equipment enabling firefighting crews to combat fires during nighttime, taking advantage of lower temperatures and reduced flames. He also mentioned plans to expand volunteer programs.

“We’ll implement online training and conduct on-site testing. Anyone brought in to assist will collaborate with experienced wildfire personnel. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of everyone involved in this wildfire season in Alberta,” he emphasized.

Canada experienced its most severe wildfire season to date in the previous year, with a staggering 18.5 million hectares (45.7 million acres) consumed by flames—almost seven times the 10-year average, as reported by the federal government. Alberta, currently grappling with drought conditions, continues to contend with the aftermath, with ongoing wildfires from the previous year and an additional 17 new blazes recorded in 2024.

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