Dry weather and gusty winds caused the authorities to raise the wildfire hazard rating to ‘high’ last week, as October got underway.
However, as of the most recent report, nothing much new was happening in the Slave Lake Forest Area.
There was a new wildfire reported and dealt with on Oct. 2. It was caused by a campfire that was left smouldering and blew up into something bigger. It was located just over two kilometres southwest of Poplar Estates.
Otherwise, some of the big fires from last spring are still doing some smouldering of their own. Most of these are however rated as ‘under control,’ and are being monitored.
One north of Chipewyan Lake, which started on July 7, is still under the ‘being held’ designation. It is over 10,000 hectares in size. Another fire with the same status is the Carrot Lake Fire, also near Chip Lake.
The fires in the Saulteaux Complex (between Smith and Slave Lake) and the Grizzly Complex (in the Swan Hills, mainly) are considered under control. They comprise many tens thousands of hectares of burned territory.
Since Jan. 1 of this year, the Slave Lake Forest Area has seen 137 wildfires, with 429,000 hectares burnt.
The Alberta numbers are big; 1,042 wildfires and 2.2 million hectares burnt.
For comparison’s sake, the five-year average for fires in the Slave Lake Area is 159, and hectares burnt just over 58,000. Average fire size, then, is 364 ha. This year’s average fire size is 3,086 ha.
On the provincial side, the five-year average for fire numbers is 1,062, making 2023 an average year. But again, not average on fire size. The average size this year was 2,111 ha; the five-year average size is 19 ha.
by Joe McWilliams