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Cool, wet weather reduces fire hazard in some Lakeland areas

Small fires near Cold Lake and Lac La Biche under control. Larger fire burns near Rich Lake.

A cold-low pressure weather front over the weekend helped provincial and municipal fire crews over the weekend — but the Wildfire Hazard remained at High in areas within the Lac La Biche Forest Area with dry grass. The hazard level was listed as Moderate in parts of the protection area without significant grass coverage

The Lac La Biche Forest Area covers much of the Lakeland area from Athabasca to Cold Lake and north to Janvier.

In the Lac La Biche area, the water bomber crews have begun their fire season coverage. Based at the Lac La Biche Airport, the air crews have seen some recent activity with nine fires burning in the protection area as of Saturday afternoon. Eight of the wildfires are classified as being held, but one located two kilometres east of the Rich Lake community was listed as being held. 

Alberta Wildfire Information Officer Leslie Lozinski says the fire had burned more than 130 hectares of land going into the weekend.The fire is being fought by 32 wildland firefighters and two helicopter crews. 

Of the eight fires listed as being under control, two small fire just west of Cold Lake have burned less than a hectare of land. Other wildfire locations in the region listed as being held include a 6.5 hectare burn just north of Atmore, and two small fires south of Lac La Biche in the Beaver Lake area that have a combined burn area of just 1.1 hectares.

Despite some rainfall and cooler temperatures over the weekend, Lozinski says there is still a concern in the area for dry grass.

Since March 1, a total of 142 hectares of the Lac La Biche Forest Area have been burned from 45 reported fires.

Across the province since the beginning of March, 173 wildfires have burned an estimated 942 hectares of land.

Advisory in place

A Fire Advisory is still in effect for the Lac La Biche Forest Area . Under the advisory, no new fire permits are being issued for non-essential heavy burning like windrows and brush piles. Small, safe cooking and warming campfires and backyard firepits in engineered structures are still allowed.

With warmer temperatures expected this week, Lozinski continues the standard warning to area residents.

"Never leave a campfire unattended. Soak it, stir it and soak it again until coot to the touch to ensure it is extinguished," she said.

The Alberta Wildfire contact number is 310-FIRE