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'Be fire aware': Alberta wildfire season officially underway

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As the final snow disappears, the rising temperatures elevate the risk of wildfires, with officials asking Albertans to be cautious when enjoying the outdoors.

To date, there are 16 wildfires already burning, including seven new wildfires that have been ignited in provincial Forest Protection Areas. Two of those blazes are listed as under control by Alberta Wildfire.

At this time last year, there were 44 fires, explained Melissa Story, an Alberta Wildfire information officer.

"Nothing too serious happening right now," Story said. "But spring is high risk for us."

"With the weather conditions changing and the weather getting nicer, we will definitely see elevated fire dangers," she added.

"The wildfire danger across the province right now is relatively low, but we would encourage anyone who is out and about in Alberta's forested areas to take caution."

With little lightning, Story says all new burns so far this year were human-caused.

Alberta Wildfire Information Officer Melissa Story surveys a forest on Saturday, April 8, 2023 (CTV News Edmonton/Amanda Anderson).

"Historically, all of our major wildfires that we have had in this province have happened in the spring," she added.

Alberta Wildfire asks all campers or recreation area users to double-check check their fires are out and double soaking ashes to snuff any embers.

Off-highway vehicle drivers are also asked to regularly clean their mufflers and spark arresters in addition to stopping regularly to ensure they have not fallen off.

In total, there were 1,246 wildfires in forest protection regions, with around 130,000 hectares burned. Sixty-one per cent of those were human-caused. The five-year average for the province is 1,300 wildfires and 200,000 hectares scorched.

Three hundred firefighters specializing in wildland blazes are finishing their training for the season and being moved to regions across the province to be ready to respond.

"We had quite an elevated fire season in the fall of last year," Story said. "We just want to encourage Albertans and any visitors, if you are out in the forested areas, just be respectful."

"Be fire aware." 

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