Alberta Wildfire Season Begins March 1

As fire season approaches, Alberta wildland firefighters are gearing up to defend the province and its communities from forest fires.

Minister Oneil Carlier with wildland firefighter Ben Bartlett

The March 1 beginning of wildfire season is also a reminder to Albertans to be extra careful to help prevent wildfires in forested areas. More than 60 per cent of the wildfires last year were caused by human activity.

“Protecting Albertans from the threat of wildfire is one of our highest priorities. That’s why we legislated March 1 as the start of fire season, recognizing that recent trends show wildfires are starting earlier in the spring. The wildfire that burned into Fort McMurray last year serves as a reminder of how important it is for us to be ready to respond to wildfires at a moment’s notice.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Last year, 1,338 wildfires burned more than 611,000 hectares, including the Horse River wildfire that spread into Fort McMurray.

The new Forest and Prairie Protection Act increases penalties for abandoning campfires or burning during fire bans and improves the government’s ability to restrict higher-risk activities, such as fireworks and incendiary targets during hazardous fire conditions.

“In the forested area around Hinton, 17 wildfires were started by abandoned campfires last year. These new fines will help bring the economic consequences of being careless when it comes to fires in our forests more in line with the potential real consequences we have seen in the past.”

Rob Mackin, Mayor of Hinton

Tips to prevent a wildfire

  • Make sure your campfire is out – soak it, stir it, and soak it again
  • Keep an eye on any winter burning

Report a wildfire

Call 310-FIRE (3473) if you spot a wildfire. These calls ensure fire crews can respond as quickly as possible.

With the start of fire season, fire permits will be required for any burning, outside of campfires, in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. This will allow firefighters to address any winter burning before the spring.  Fire permits are free and can be obtained by contacting your local Alberta Agriculture and Forestry office. Phone toll-free 310-0000 to locate your nearest office.

To learn more about what more you can do to prevent wildfires, go to the Alberta Wildfire webpage or download the Alberta wildfire mobile app for Android and Apple devices.