‘Extreme’ wildfire risk continues across much of southern Alberta

“Last year, 67 percent of our wildfires were caused by humans and were 100 percent preventable, so we can take steps to reduce that number.”

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Much of southern Alberta is under “extreme” wildfire risk, according to provincial officials, as high temperatures continue to dot the forecast for the area.

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The conditions have Banff National Park under a fire ban, with minor advisories and restrictions in areas south and west of Calgary.

“Southern Alberta has been heating up,” said Melissa Story, a wildfire information officer.

“That area is under extreme fire danger right now. Anytime we see areas of hot, dry conditions, like we’ve had, it definitely raises the level of fire danger.”

In the Calgary Forest Area, the area just west of the city that encompasses the Kananaskis, a fire advisory is in place. That means the province isn’t issuing new permits for fires, but existing permits remain valid and wood-burning fires are still restricted. However, if hot and dry conditions continue, Story said the advisory could be upgraded to a restriction.

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So far in 2022, southern Alberta has avoided the high levels of wildfires and resulting smoke that characterized recent summers.

To date, Alberta has had 750 wildfires that have burned some 105,000 hectares, below the five-year average of 875 wildfires and 180,000 hectares burned. But the lower numbers don’t mean the province is out of the woods yet.

“We’re still in the middle of fire season right now,” Story said. “Last year, 67 percent of our wildfires were human-caused and 100 percent preventable, so we can take steps to reduce that number.”

Story urged Albertans who go camping to practice campfire-safe habits, such as not lighting a fire in windy conditions and completely extinguishing fires after use by soaking the ashes, stirring them, and re-soaking them until cool to the touch. touch.

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She said it’s unclear how long the elevated fire risk will continue.

Environment Canada’s forecast for Calgary sees sunny days and highs in the 20s throughout the week, with no precipitation currently expected.

That’s the result of a persistent ridge sitting over southern Alberta, where temperatures will remain high before returning to seasonal averages around the end of the week, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Heather Pimiskern.

“It’s not abnormal for us to see temperatures in this range,” Pimiskern said.

“As we move into mid-August, longer-term forecasts indicate temperatures will be closer to normal, which is around 24 degrees.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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