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18 wildfires reported in Fort McMurray area since March

Last Updated May 30, 2019 at 7:52 am MST

PHOTO. Supplied: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

Alberta Wildfire has put a fire restriction into effect as of May 17, 2019 for the Wood Buffalo forested area.

The fire ban prohibits all open fires such as campfires and backyard fire pits.

The ban still allows the use of items like CSA-approved portable propane pits, and gas or propane stove fires.

However, the ban also prohibits the use of charcoal briquettes, tiki torches and fireworks.

Starting or having a campfire in the forested area comes with a fine of $287.00.

Should a campfire cause a wildfire, expect a bill for the damages and for the costs incurred in extinguishing the fire.

Amber Simpson, information officer with Alberta Wildfire in Fort McMurray, said how many wildfires the region had this season.

“Since March 1, there have been 18 in the Fort McMurray forest area, and of those fires 17 were human-caused and one was from lightning.”

Simpson said fire bans come from the province depending on the fire danger, weather conditions, and the number of resources available.

“Our current fire danger is extreme, and it will take a large amount of rain to reduce the fire danger level to a point where we would remove the fire ban or the OHV restriction.”

Operating an OHV in prohibited areas during a fire ban comes with a $575.00 fine.

However, OHVs for industrial, agricultural, and traditional use by Indigenous peoples are still allowed.

Simpson does have a reminder for operators travelling between operations in those circumstances.

“They must have a shovel, an axe, and a container able to hold at least five litres of water.”

Advise extreme caution operating all heavy equipment and OHV’s in the forested areas since grass can ignite very easily.

Wildfire under control

There is one wildfire ten kilometres northeast of CNRL Albian in Fort McKay.

Amber Simpson says it is under control as crews hold the fire to just ten hectares.

“We anticipate this fire is going to be extinguished within the next few days.”

Simpson adds 25 firefighters on the ground are extinguishing the fire.

You can download the new Alberta Fire Bans app on your cell phone to stay on top of fire bans and restrictions.