Wildfire smoke seemed like a permanent fixture in Alberta this summer. In May, smoke from wildfires in the province impacted communities and industry. In July, a mix of wildfire smoke from British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and wildfires right here in Alberta covered most of the province. Again in August, wildfires in Washington smoked out south and central parts of Alberta. From highway closures to health concerns, Albertans have been feeling the impacts from wildfire smoke. You can track smoke forecasts here.
With all the smoke it’s no surprise this fire season has been one of Alberta’s busiest. Wildland firefighters have extinguished more than 1,600 wildfires so far – that’s the average amount of wildfires we experience in an entire season and there are still two more months of fire season left.
Alberta called on its partners around the world to join our firefighting efforts. Wildland firefighters from all over Canada, the United States, Mexico and for the first time New Zealand, Australia and South Africa joined our ranks. Over 1000 out-of-province firefighters came in to help throughout the season. Now that the wildfire hazard has decreased and firefighters have every wildfire in Alberta contained, we have been able to return the favour by sending firefighters to British Columbia, Idaho, Montana and Washington.
Last year, more than 800 wildfires in Alberta were caused by people. No matter where you are in the province, you can take simple steps when you’re out and about:
- Put it out. Know these three steps for building and extinguishing a campfire safely.
- Report it. If you see a wildfire, you can call 310-FIRE (3473) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The sooner we know about a fire, the sooner we can start fighting it.
- Before you burn it – get a permit. Free fire permits for any burning, except campfires, in the Forest Protection Area are required until October 31.
- Check for hot spots. If you’re taking out an all-terrain vehicle or other off-highway vehicle, remember to check your vehicle’s hot spots and take steps to prevent a wildfire.
It’s not over yet
Even with the recent rain, wildfires can still start. The early snow melt and dry spring has challenged firefighters who have had to dig in deep to put out Alberta wildfires this fire season.
Alberta will return to these dry conditions this fall as the trees and grass dry out again. This will drive the risk of wildfires up. Download the Alberta Wildfire app or visit wildfire.alberta.ca for the most up-to-date wildfire hazard conditions.
Check Alberta fire ban areas before doing any burning.
If you have health concerns about the smoke, please contact Health Link Alberta.