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Regional Fire Chief confident in wildfire response

A convoy of evacuees from Fort McMurray, Alberta drive past wildfires that were burning out of control as they leave the city Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) – The regional fire chief says although there are more fires than normal in the area this year, crews are doing a good job of keeping them controlled.

“Our forestry partners are doing a terrific job detecting, suppressing and controlling wildfires in the region,” said Chief Butz, Regional Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management.

“With dry conditions, lightning weather fronts and sustained hot temperatures, we’ve been experiencing a higher-than-normal number of wildfires. Community members can expect wildfire smoke to continue to be present, but at this time, there is no immediate risk to any of our communities.”

He says all wildfires are being monitored and additional resources are ready to be deployed if needed.

“Strong wildfire prevention and mitigation strategies continue to be a top priority and as a community, we’ve completed a significant amount of FireSmart work since 2016, while also strengthening and refining emergency plans,” said Butz.

“We are well positioned to protect all communities in the region, but everyone has a role to play in emergency preparedness. All community members should be aware and stay prepared.”

In the meantime, everyone who lives in the area is reminded to be aware and stay prepared during wildfire season by:

– Downloading the Alertable app to receive municipal emergency alerts
– Signing up for Alberta Emergency Alerts by downloading the app
– Following the RMWB Facebook and Twitter accounts
– Staying up to date on the status of wildfires
– Having a 72-hour emergency kit ready
– Reviewing your community emergency management plan (CEMP) and having a household emergency plan
– Keeping all combustibles at least 1.5 metres away from your home and propane tanks and woodpiles at least 10 metres away
– Keeping your roof and gutters free of debris
– Moving all unused patio furniture to a shed or safe storage facility
– Taking other proactive steps to prepare households and properties. View more FireSmart tips at home

Following the 2017 RMWB Wildfire Mitigation Strategy, approximately 341 hectares of municipal land has been treated with FireSmart prescriptions.

A fire restriction continues to be in effect for the entire Wood Buffalo region and most of Alberta. Under the fire restriction, all existing fire permits are suspended, wood campfires in the backcountry are not allowed and fireworks are prohibited. Safe wood campfires within fire rings and backyard firepits are still allowed.