Even with the large amount of snow on the ground, residents both in the city and in rural areas are encouraged to prepare their properties for the start of wildfire season this Saturday.

That means checking any winter burn sites for heat from burning under the surface, and limbing and trimming any trees and clearing your gutters.

Last year, around half of the wildfires in the Grande Prairie region occurred in April and May.

Local wildfire information officer Kelly Burke says starting wildfire season in March allows them to be ready for that busy time.

“The earlier we get staff hired and everybody in the fire season mode, it helps us get ready quicker, and also it helps us keep tabs on any spring fires that are burning.”

Burke adds the permit applications allow them to know where burning is occurring, so that they know where to restrict burning and possibly place fire fighters, if fire hazard hits high.