It was another slower wildfire season in the Grande Prairie Forest area. From March 1st to October 31st, there were just under 40 fires in the area, burning 10 hectares.
Wildfire Information Officer Kelly Burke says those numbers are what they normally see each year.
“It seems the last five years we’ve had 40 to 45 fires per year. Human-caused fires have gone down quite a bit in our area… The weather this year was really rainy and quite cool so it wasn’t conducive to wildfires.”
Of the 40 fires this year, 35 were human-caused and five were lightning fires. That’s down slightly from the seven lightning strikes but consistent with the 35 human-caused fires officials saw in 2018. Burke says that while things started off slow they did see some of the biggest fires this year.
“The 2019 wildfire season started off pretty quiet in March and April but it picked up pretty fast in May. We saw some of the largest wildfires starting in High Level and then in Slave Lake as well.”
Despite the season being over, Burke says that doesn’t mean fires can’t start over the winter.
“Anybody that was doing burning this fall before the snow came, if those fires weren’t property extinguished, the snow acts as an insulated blanket for the fire and it can hold over throughout the winter.”
People are asked to revisit old burn sites during the winter to check for any hot spots.