Alberta prepares for this year's wildfire season

Alberta prepares for this year's wildfire season | Insurance Business

Alberta prepares for this year

Having experienced a series of costly wildfire incidents in recent years, Alberta is upping its game to prevent or mitigate even greater damages.

This year, the province declared wildfire season earlier this month – March 01 – instead of the usual April 01.

Alberta hires meteorologists and other experts each wildfire season to identify possible hotspots where wildfire activity could happen for the spring, summer, and fall.

In particular, the experts have identified problematic areas in both northern and southern Alberta. In the north, aging forests near the areas of Peace River, High Level and Slave Lake could serve as fuel for a wildfire. Elsewhere in the south, the region has shown a pattern of hot and dry weather.

“Those are areas that we’re going to make sure we’ve got lots of resources nearby, lots of crews stationed at the fire bases there, ready to react in case any fires start,” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather told CBC News.

It has been two years since the province experienced the Fort McMurray wildfire, yet it remains one of the worst incidents of its kind in Canadian history. Although Alberta saw another wildfire incident just last year, many experts are looking at the much larger, much costlier Fort McMurray case to prevent another similar catastrophe from breaking out.

“Fort McMurray was such an unprecedented event, just in terms of the fire size,” Fairweather said. “The fire behaviour was much different than what we’d seen before.”

Fairweather added that the wildfires he has encountered over the past two years in Western Canada have burned much more intensely and faster than he remembers.

On top of moving wildfire season a month earlier to allow more time for preparation, Alberta is introducing tougher fines to deter wildfire-inducing behavior such as abandoning campfires.

“Everyone needs to do their part to help prevent these wildfires,” Fairweather remarked.


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