Firefighters are busy burning areas of dead and dry grass on Crown land in local communities over several weeks.
Burning dead grass help protect the areas from future wildfires by removing flammable fuel, says a news release from Slave Lake Forest Area and Peace River Forest Area dated April 12.
Controlled burns are scheduled on land in the High Prairie, Peace River, Falher and Slave Lake regions, says Leah Lovequist, wildfire information officer for the Slave Lake area.
“Trained firefighters conduct these burns under specific weather conditions to ensure the fires are controlled and to minimize the impact of smoke to roadways and communities,” Lovequist says.
“Conditions that make this a good time for grass burns also make it a critical time for wildfires.”
Warm spring weather will cause the snow to disappear, exposing areas of extremely flammable dead grass.
“It takes only a few hours of sun and warm temperatures for moisture from rain or dew to evaporate,” Lovequist says.
“Under these conditions, a wildfire can ignite easily and spread very quickly.”
Almost all spring wildfires are caused by humans, she says.
“Firefighters urge everyone to use caution when working or recreating in areas of dead grass,” Lovequist says.
People are encouraged to do their part to prevent wildfires by taking the following steps.
-Go back and check your winter burn projects. A fire can burn underground all winter and re-emerge in the spring when conditions are dry and windy.
Make sure your winter burns are out.
-Get a fire permit before you burn. Fire permits are required for any type of burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta except for a campfire.
Free fire permits are available online or at a local Forestry office.
-When riding a quad or other off-highway vehicle, stop frequently to remove the buildup of debris around the vehicle’s hot spots.
Carry firefighting equipment like a shovel, pail and fire extinguisher with you, so you can tackle any fires that might start.
-Do not park vehicles in tall grass as the hot muffler could ignite the dry grass.
-When using any equipment that may spark, work in areas away from dry grass and make sure to have water and firefighting equipment nearby.
-When using farm equipment, clear away any debris from the machine’s hot spots and carry firefighting equipment nearby.
Citizens are advised to stay current on Alberta’s wildfire situation by downloading the Alberta Wildfire Status app.
It provides up-to-date information on the location, size and status of wildfires burning in the Forest Protection area.
For more information about grass burning, phone Lovequist at (1-780) 849-0945 or Peace River Forest Area wildfire information officer Michelle Huley at (1-780) 618-2081.
by Richard Froese
April 23, 2023