While the spring melt continues across the Grande Prairie region, fire officials are reminding those who may have been burning throughout the winter to safety top of mind.
County of Grande Prairie Fire Marshal Ken Atamanchuk says holdover fires, which can remain out of sight for months, even with sopping wet conditions, become especially dangerous in the spring.
“It’s a very crucial time that we have to be very cautious,” he says. “Spring and the fall are the two times, during that change of season when things are drying out makes a big difference,” he adds.
Atamanchuk says whether an old fire was improperly extinguished in the autumn, or caused by a lightning strike, a holdover fire means the embers are left smoldering underground throughout the winter. He says the fires can then re-emerge in the spring when conditions could become more favourable, and fuel more plentiful.
“They’re a sleeping giant, they’re just going to sit there, and when an opportunity arises it’s going to flare up again, and that one brush pile that wasn’t burning, it is now burning,” he adds.
According to Alberta Wildfire, a total of two wildfires have burned in the Grande Prairie Forest area since wildfire season began on March 1st. As of March 22nd, the Grande Prairie Forest Area is reporting a fire danger level of low.