‘Not out of the woods’: Wildfire risk in Alberta remains despite heat wave ending

EDMONTON — As a record-breaking heat wave in Alberta comes to a close, officials are reminding Albertans that the threat of wildfires continues.

Derrrick Forsythe, wildfire information officer with Alberta Forestry, told CTV News Edmonton in an interview that fire dangers remain high throughout most of the province.

While the province received some rain in the past 48 hours, Forsythe said there are still areas that have extreme to very high danger ratings in southern and northeastern Alberta.

“The threat is still out there,” he said. “Temperatures are going to get warm again. We could be back to similar conditions by early next week.”

As of publication there are 40 fire advisories, around 50 fire restrictions, and 22 fire bans in place across the province.

Forsythe said while the rain on Friday evening helped provide some much-needed relief, there were also thunderstorms that ignited some new fires.

“We have had some lighting strikes that have sparked blazes,” Forsythe said.

“Our crews have been really good at getting at most of them.”

As of publication, Alberta had 48 active wildfires, including nine out-of-control.

The largest out-of-control fire is located east of Conklin, Alta., and is estimated to be 372 hectares in size.

“We are working really hard to get that one contained,” Forsythe said. “We’ve got air tankers, heavy equipment, crews, and helicopters on that. We are working really hard to get that one contained so it doesn’t grow that much bigger.”

According to Forsythe, no one is in the immediate path of that fire right now with the nearest impact being some oil and gas developments about 20 kilometres away.

The majority of wildfires are located within the Edson, Rocky Mountain, Lac La Biche, and the Fort McMurray forest areas.

Forsythe said everyone should be “fire smart” by being cautious when having campfires, ensuring campfires and BBQs are properly put out or turned off, and cleaning off-road vehicles of any leaves or grass – especially around exhausts or the muffler.

Eighty-eight per cent of wildfire activity in the province last year was caused by human activity.

“The biggest thing we can do to reduce the risk as individuals is to be as careful as we possibly can be when we are out in the woods this summer.”

“We are ready for the conditions summer is going to throw at us,” Forsythe said. “We are not out of the woods of the season yet.”

If anyone sees smoke or a wildfire in Alberta they are asked to call 310-3473.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Touria Izri

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