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Alberta Wildfire gearing up for 2021 season

A shot of the wildfire burning in the Slave River district in northern Alberta June 18, 2019 (Credit - Alberta Wildfire/Twitter)

CALGARY (660NEWS) — It’s officially wildfire season in Alberta.

Beginning now, running through the end of October, permits will now be required for any debris burning in the province.

With the evaporation of snow through the early part of spring brings extremely low moisture which can fuel fires early in the wildfire season.

With many campgrounds closed down or limiting capacity, along with people staying home due to COVID-19, the 2020 wildfire season was more tame than usual for Alberta Wildfire.

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“Despite the incredible challenges of 2020, especially with COVID-19, our firefighters successfully contained hundreds of fires in the province,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Devin Dreeshan. “With the adoption of new technology and world-class training, Alberta Wildfire will be ready for whatever the season throws at them.”

Last year, Alberta saw 704 wildfires burn just over 3,269 hectares (8,068 acres). That’s less than one per cent of total area burned when compared to the five-year average.

Eighty-eight per cent of last season’s wildfires were human-caused.

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Alberta Wildfire will be deploying some new technology this season to help in the firefight, including:

– Exploring remote camera, drone and satellite technologies for wildfire detection and data collection

– Implementing modern remote automated weather stations that provide real-time or hourly data rather than once or twice per day.

– Continuing to evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of new firefighting tools and practices (e.g., gels, drones, cameras and water delivery systems such as large and mobile pumps and sprinklers).

Alberta Wildfire also is putting together FireSmart Alberta to help with the data collection and giving users information on nearby fires, fire bans, fire dangers, and more.

Up-to-date information on fire restrictions, fire bans, OHV restrictions and general wildfire information is available at albertafirebans.ca or by calling 1-866-FYI-FIRE (1-866-394-3473).

To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE.