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2019 Alberta wildfire season officially over

PHOTO. Supplied: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

The 2019 wildfire season is officially over in the province of Alberta.

The official end date was Oct. 31, 2019, as the season started in March.

Area Information Coordinator for Alberta Wildfire, Lynn Daina provided a breakdown for the Fort McMurray Forested Area.

“During the 2019 wildfire season in the Fort McMurray Forest Area, we experienced 80 wildfires that burned a total of 50,588 hectares.”

Meanwhile, across the province, officials counted 1003 fires burning more than 8800 hectares in total.

Residents no longer need a fire permit for their next burn.

However, residents should remain vigilant when extinguishing fires.

Alberta Wildfire

Compared to 2018 results, Daina noted our region experienced fewer fires.

Although, she noted an increase in the number of hectares touched by wildfire.

“In terms of the hectares that were burned, it’s considerably more. So, we had [fewer] fires, but we had pretty significant ones around the Fort Chipewyan area that [burned] a lot of forests.”

Daina said lightning strikes in forested areas, which didn’t see a burn for a while, sparked some fires.

Those areas were not near infrastructure or human life at that time.

Wildfires in those areas continued to burn, but officials at Alberta Wildfire monitored them.

However, Daina noted humans caused 36 per cent of the total wildfires in the Fort McMurray forest area in 2019, up from 23 per cent in 2018.

She said there were a number of infractions.

“We did write a few tickets this year for burning without a permit, failing to extinguish during a fire ban, riding an OHV during a ban, and a few warnings were issued as well.”

Daina added the number of tickets and fines would be available at a later date.

Despite the change in seasons, Lynn Daina said safe campfires are always in season.

“Just because the weather is cooling off and there’s more moisture, putting out your campfire is still important because we do have wildfires that occur in the winter.”

Daina added fires may sink underground and emerge in another spot.

Therefore, it’s important residents put out fires properly before walking away for the campsite.

She also asked for residents to call Alberta Wildfire as a courtesy before their next burn.