Wildfire hazard fanned by dry winter

While the fire hazard in the Clearwater forest in the Rocky Mountain House area is low, fire permits are now required.

While the fire hazard in the Clearwater forest in the Rocky Mountain House area is low, fire permits are now required.

The free permits are needed for any burning except campfires and can be obtained at Sustainable Resource Development offices.

Anyone who is doing any burning should apply for a permit immediately, says a news release from Barry Shellian, wildfire ranger/information officer in the Clearwater forest.

“There remains potential in the forest for holdover fires and winter burning sites, and these should be inspected.

“These smouldering fires can resurface during the spring months on hot, dry and windy days, quickly becoming an out of control wildfire.

“When checking your winter burn sites, spread around any remaining debris so you can probe the area for hotspots. Use your bare hand to feel for heat over the ash piles.

“If you see smoke or feel any heat, the fire is still burning beneath the surface. Douse any remaining hot spots with water and stir up the ashes. Remember: A fire is not completely extinguished until there is absolutely no heat emanating from the ashes.”

Earlier this week, the province declared an earlier than normal start to the wildfire season, on March 1, so that people, equipment and aircraft are in place early after a mild winter has left many areas with little or no snow, and dry forest conditions. Wildfire season usually is declared to start on April 1.

Clearwater Sustainable Resource Development offices can be contacted at: Rocky Mountain House, 403-845-8581; Drayton Valley, 780-542-6616; Sundre, 403-638-3805; Nordegg, 310-0000 and then enter 403-845 8581.

To keep up to date on wildfire activity in the province, there’s an Alberta Wildfire Information page on Facebook, or follow @ABGovWildfire on Twitter.

To report a wildfire in Alberta, call 310-FIRE (3473).

For information about fire bans and forest closures, visit www.albertafirebans.ca.

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