A full city-wide fire ban was put into effect Wednesday in Red Deer due to poor air quality from B.C. wildfires and dry conditions.
The ban is in place to help prevent fires in the city and reduce health concerns.
Fire marshal Wes Van Bavel said the chance of fire in city forests is a real concern.
“Things are very dry in our urban forested area, including a lot of browning of some of the leaves on the trees. The potential and the risk is there for uncontrolled urban fire at this point,” Van Bavel said.
He said there has not been much rain in the recent weeks. The rain last weekend was soaked up quickly.
The number of grass fires so far this summer is within the normal range, he said.
“We always have grass fires. A lot of them don’t make the news because they’re not significant where they’ve taken out a large area or threatened a building, or caused damage to a building. Usually we get the reports quick enough that we can get there and mitigate the situation quickly.”
The following fires are not allowed under the ban:
- Open fires using charcoal, briquettes or wood.
- Any source of open flame (tiki torches).
The only fires allowed now are:
- Certified portable gas fire pits.
- Certified gas stoves or barbecues designed for cooking.
- Certified cooking appliances utilizing charcoal, briquettes or wood pellets on residential property.
Anyone who contravenes the fire ban will be subject to a $210 fine and applicable response fees. All existing fire permits are also suspended.
Red Deer Emergency Services encourages residents to take extra caution to prevent fires. Proper disposal of smoking materials is important as many fires are started by people throwing them out a window or discarding them in plants.
Bavel said the fire that destroyed a large apartment building in Edmonton last week was caused by someone disposing of a cigarette butt in potting soil.
“These things just don’t need to happen. Improper disposal of smokers material is a problem across Alberta, and really a problem across North America.”
He said the rate of fires in Red Deer is lower than the provincial average likely due to home safety checks offered by Red Deer Emergency Services.
“It’s making a difference. We’ve had many people comment back to us that they didn’t think about a lot of these things until we were actually in their home talking to them about these things.”