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Average wildfire forecast for much of country: Natural Resources Canada

Last Updated May 9, 2017 at 3:55 pm MST

Police officers direct traffic under a cloud of smoke from a wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday, May 6, 2016. Jason Franson won a National Newspaper Award in the News Feature Photo category for this photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Natural Resources Canada is forecasting an average wildfire season for much of the country this year.

Researchers say dry conditions and low precipitation in areas of Alberta, British Columbia, southern Yukon and the Northwest Territories may cause a gradual increase in fire threat in the coming weeks.

The danger for these areas which include forests, shrubs, and grasslands is expected to peak in June and taper off later in the summer.

The 10-year average for a season is about 6,000 fires and a burn area of about 25,000 square kilometres.

The Canadian Forest Service warns there have been significant fires in the past under average conditions.

Scientist Kerry Anderson notes the Fort McMurray fire last year happened in what was forecasted to be a below-average season.

“We may have a below-average fire season, but given enough spark, things could still ignite.” He said Tuesday.

The Fort McMurray fire burned about 5,900 square kilometres.

The forecast for fires in forested areas of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario next month is moderate. It is moderate to low in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.