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Wildfire season under way in Alberta

March 1 marked the start of wildfire season in Alberta.

Almost all spring wildfires are caused by human activity.

“Most wildfires are preventable,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen said. “More than 70 per cent of Alberta wildfires last year were caused by humans — and the McMillan wildfire near Slave Lake was started by arson. We will continue to promote prevention, provide adequate funding and improvements to forest management.”

Last fire season, 989 wildfires burned more than 883,411 hectares in Alberta.

Seventy-one per cent of the wildfires were human-caused.

Human-caused wildfires are generally accidental in nature — often started by an out-of-control campfire or spark from an off-highway vehicle.

Dead and dry grass, twigs, leaves and branches provide fuel for fast-moving grass fires.

Whether started by accident or arson, wildfires can cause major environmental damage.

While arson is a criminal offence, any unsafe fire-related behaviours can lead to hefty fines or charges for the person involved.

Wildfire season begins one month earlier in Alberta than in other jurisdictions and runs until Oct. 31.

Research shows that wildfires are starting earlier and lasting longer.

Alberta’s early fire season means firefighters are trained and positioned throughout the province sooner.

During wildfire season, fire permits are required for any burning except campfires in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta.

Fire permits let firefighters know exactly where planned burning is being done.

Permits also help prevent false calls, which ensures firefighters are available for real wildfire response.

Fire permits are free and can be requested from any Agriculture and Forestry office.

If you see a wildfire burning in the forest, report it toll-free at 310-3473.

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