Scary story time: over 800 of Alberta’s summer wildfires were caused by humans this year

We’re wrapping up yet another fire season on October 31 and while you’re sneaking bites of the kid’s Halloween candy, we’re reminding you to not let the cooler temperatures fool you: a wildfire can easily start in dry grass and leaves. When you’re out and about this fall, make sure your campfire is fully extinguished and keep your off-highway vehicle’s hot spots free of debris.

Photo of the burns caused by the Red Deer Creek wildfire.

The damage caused by this summer’s Red Deer creek wildfire was extensive.

So, how did we do this year? Well, while lightning was responsible for nearly 40 per cent of our wildfires this summer, almost 60 per cent – a total of more than 800 fires – were caused by humans. Although this is fewer human-caused wildfires than last year, it’s right on track with the five-year average.

Each and every one of these wildfires was preventable. And with Alberta’s population still growing (by over a quarter million people in the past five years alone), the next few years will likely see more people sharing the land than ever before. That’s why it’s crucial that we all do our part.

Whether you’re at home with a burn pile or sitting around a campfire, it’s easy to be responsible. We’ve said them before and we’ll say them again – here are some basic tips to help prevent wildfire – in or out of fire season.

  • When camping or hiking,never leave your campfire or burn unattended, and be sure the ashes are cool before leaving the site. Soak the ashes, stir them and soak them again.
  • Use FireSmart tips to help protect your home from wildfire.
  • Get our wildfire app for Apple or Android to keep wildfire info at your fingertips if you’re in the forested areas of Alberta.
  • When using your quad, ATV, or motorbike, keep your engine and muffler free of debris.
  • If you conduct a winter burn, make sure you take the appropriate safety precautions.
  • And, most importantly, call 310-FIRE (3473), toll-free, 24/7 to report a wildfire.

Questions? You can find even more info here – so there’s no excuse for not being FireSmart this winter.

2 thoughts on “Scary story time: over 800 of Alberta’s summer wildfires were caused by humans this year

  1. Of the 800 wildfires caused by humans this past summer, how many were caused by, a) recreational campers, b) all terrain vehicles and c) industrial activity including commercial brush burning? Also how many hectares were burnt by each of these categories?

    • Excellent questions Carl. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t go into that depth of detail at this time as the causes of many of them are still under investigation. Currently, just over half of the 853 human caused fires were deemed recreation wildfires and burned approximately 30 hectares of land. Generally speaking, human caused fires are caught earlier and often closer to civilization so they can often be put out more quickly and cause less damage than one started by a lightning strike.

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