Anyone who has lived in the Slave Lake Forest area knows that the welcome warmer weather also increases the chance of wildfires. As of August 25, the Alberta Government designated Slave Lake’s Fire Danger to be Very High. There’s only one higher classification — Extreme.
This past week there was a wildfire just about 25 kilometers north of our mill site in the Martin Hills. Thankfully it is “under control” with nine firefighters and one helicopter working on the 18.7 hectare wildfire.
With the September long weekend only a week away, there is some rain forecasted for this weekend, but no large accumulations. Then next week it looks like the temperatures will climb into the low to mid-30s. The warm and windy weather creates extremely dry conditions, making it easier for a fire to ignite easily and spread quickly.
For example, on the evening of August 22, lightning sparked four new wildfires, but firefighters quickly contained and extinguished them.
Still, experience tells us that we can each do our part to prevent wildfires. In Alberta this season, humans caused 49 percent of wildfires, and human caused wildfires are preventable.
Whatever plans we have with friends and family over the long weekend or anytime over the next few weeks, let’s remember to be Fire Safe. Wildfire prevention is a responsibility we all share.
Here are some tips from the Alberta Government on safe fire practices while enjoying our amazing outdoors.
- Safe wood campfires should be within a metal, brick, or rock fire ring.
- Be on rock, gravel, sand, or another non-combustible surface that extends at least one metre around the fire;
- Have a responsible person in attendance to keep the fire under control at all times and extinguish it before leaving;
- Have on hand enough water on site to extinguish the fire. Safe wood campfires on private lands include private land campgrounds and private land recreation areas.
- Municipalities, Parks, and protected areas may have additional fire safety requirements.
- Never leave a campfire unattended. Soak it, stir it and soak it again until cool to the touch to ensure it is extinguished.
- Without a valid fire permit any burning other than a campfire is prohibited.
For those who enjoy riding off-highway vehicles, there’s always the chance of causing a wildfire.
- Stop frequently to remove any build-up of debris from the machine. Grass, muskeg, moss, or other debris can begin to smoulder and drop to the ground while riding and spark a wildfire.
- Always carry firefighting equipment – a shovel, extinguisher, and bucket.
Local wildfires are not the only ones causing us concern. Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories has drifted into the Slave Lake Forest Area. Anyone experiencing respiratory difficulties because of the smoke, please visit Alberta Health Link or dial 811.
And remember to report wildfires immediately by calling 310-FIRE(3473).
If you’d like more information about wildfires in the Slave Lake area or anywhere else in Alberta, visit https://www.facebook.com/AlbertaWildfireInfo.
Have a safe and wonderful long weekend as we close out the summer of 2022!