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County urging caution after crews respond to 14 brush fire calls over nine day span

The County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Service is reminding residents to exercise “extreme caution” after crews responded to numerous human-caused fires.

Over the past nine days, the county says crews attended more than 14 brush fire calls due to campfires, yard cleanups, and fires escaping fire pits.

Presently, the county remains under a fire advisory due to extremely dry conditions and a lack of rainfall over the past months. As a result, the county will not be issuing new burn permits until conditions become more favourable and residents are asked to refrain from burning to mitigate wildfire risk.

Controlled burning from existing permits is allowed under strict requirements from county officials.

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Among the restrictions, no burning is permitted when winds exceed 12 kilometres per hour, appropriate safety equipment or water must be readily available for extinguishing fires, continuous in-person monitoring is mandatory, and landowners are asked to check their winter burns to ensure they are completely extinguished.

In response to the increased risks, county fire services have begun collaborating with Regional Enforcement Services to investigate the causes of fires. Officials say failure to comply with fire bylaws and permit requirements may result in fines and in cases of “gross negligence,” those found responsible may be invoiced for all firefighting costs including heavy equipment and aircraft.

Harbour Security will be flying a thermal imaging drone to keep an eye on the site of last Spring’s Dunes West wildfire to check for any remaining hot spots.

Residents are encouraged to report any fire incidents immediately to 9-1-1 and a full list of safe burning practices is available on the County Fire Service’s website.

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