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Precipitation helps stave off wildfires across Alberta

It is suspected that humans were the cause of more than 70% of this year's wildfires.
Alberta Wildfire and Yellowhead County firefighters worked together to quickly contained a wildfire in the Edson Forest Area on Saturday, May 4, 2024. The wildfire was estimated to be 6.5 hectares in size.

Cooler temperatures and rain have helped lower the fire danger and assist in the effort to put out more than 300 wildfires so far this year in Alberta.

“Thanks to cooler temperatures and more precipitation in many areas of the province, wildfire danger is now low to moderate throughout much of Alberta,” said Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen during the May 9 weekly provincial wildfire update.

“These conditions, paired with diligent work on the part of our firefighters, has led to more than 300 fully extinguished wildfires this year.”

However, officials are cautioning Albertans to cool their expectations.

“Yes, we have had some much-needed rain and even snow in some parts of the province, but this is the point of the season where conditions are about to change,” said Alberta Wildfire Information Unit Manager Christie Tucker.

“With temperatures rising rapidly over the next couple of days, we’re about to see a spike in wildfire danger in those areas of the province that haven’t had as much rain.”

With the low humidity and high temperatures expected in the north of the province, a wildfire can start and spread quickly, she said.

As of Thursday morning, there were 40 wildfires burning in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. Of those, three were categorized as being held, and 37 were under control. None were listed as out of control, and there have been no wildfires of note.

Tucker added that there have been 9,197 hectares of forests burned in 2024, a stark contrast with the more than 260,000 hectares seen at this same time last year.

According to the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard, the suspected cause of 71.17 per cent of this year’s wildfires was humans.

“Albertans have a choice,” Tucker said. “They can help firefighters keep our forests and community safe by respecting fire bans and restrictions in place.”

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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