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Alberta government prepares for early wildfire season


March 6, 2012
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The Alberta government declared the start of wildfire season one month earlier than usual 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….

The Alberta government declared the start of wildfire season one month earlier than usual 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 in Alberta was deemed to have begun on March 1, instead of the more typical April 1start date.

Starting the wildfire season early gives the province a head start after a destructive wildfire season in 2011. Last year’s wildfires burned 950,000 hectares. That’s more than 12 times the five-year average of 78,097 hectares. However, the number of wildfires last year (1,139) was less than the five-year average of 1,667 per year during 2006-2010.

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Winter precipitation levels in most areas of the province are less than what they usually are at this time of year, even with the recent snowfall in some parts.

“This year, we have a higher risk of early wildfire, and resources have been on alert in high hazard areas throughout the winter,” said Frank Oberle, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. “We are positioning additional personnel and equipment throughout the province’s forested area to respond quickly and effectively to protect people and property when wildfires are detected.”

In 2011, about 80% of wildfire starts were human-caused, compared to the usual 60%.


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