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Alberta fire crews preparing for wildfire season
Published Wednesday, February 15, 2017 3:59PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 15, 2017 7:29PM MST
The provincial government said Alberta’s wildland firefighters are training ahead of this year’s wildfire season, and are reminding Albertans to take measures to prevent wildfires.
Officials said in 2016, more than half of the 1,338 wildfires in Alberta were caused by human activity.
The wildfires, including the massive fire that hit Fort McMurray, burned about 611,000 hectares.
The province said the wildfire season starts March 1.
“Protecting Albertans from the threat of wildfire is one of our highest priorities,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said in a statement. “That’s why we legislated March 1 as the start of the fire season, recognizing that recent trends show wildfires are starting earlier in the spring.
“The wildfire that burned into Fort McMurray last year serves as a reminder of how important it is for us to be ready to respond to wildfires at a moment’s notice.”
The province’s new Forest and Prairie Protection Act has increased penalties for abandoning campfires, or burning during fire bans, and it improves the province’s ability to restrict higher-risk activities – those activities include fireworks and incendiary targets when the risk of fire is higher.