Winter fires warn Albertans to be cautious all year long


December fire that was released from surveillance and threatened the evacuation of some Alberta communities this weekend is not so off-season as it may seem.

"We see some fires in winter every year, and this has only got a little more attention than usual," said CBC News Melissa Story, Provincial Information Technology Officer for Agronomy and Forestry, Alberta.

On Friday afternoon, two fires were discovered in an area about 75 kilometers southwest of Edson, Alta. One was very small – it was only about 500 square meters big, and the second was heavily enlarged to about 100 hectares.

The city was among the communities of Cadomin and Mercoal in the Yellowhead district.

"The conditions that we saw yesterday with heavy winds surely gave this fire a small move, but we are now under surveillance," she said. There is also less snow in the area than usual, yet another factor in the rapid growth of blaze.

She was under surveillance around 11:30 on Saturday.

The story said that the change in weather conditions on Saturday morning, including some light snow and reduced wind speed, helped a lot of firefighters in getting the upper part.

The residents of the hamlets of Mercoal and nearby Robb had been informed that they might have to evacuate on Friday. The counseling was abolished on Saturday.

The cause of the fire is in the investigation, but the story said that it is almost certainly related to human activity.

"In the middle of winter we usually do not get a storm," she said. "This would be a human cause, we can not figure out what the cause is right now."

According to statistics for 2018 fires for Alberto, 60% of annual 1288 fires were caused by people, and the rest started with lightning.

The total number of fire fires in 2018 was slightly lower than the five-year average of 1,414. The total number of hectares burned in 2018 was almost 60,000 – which is significantly lower than the five-year average of 235,000 hectares.

The story said that it is important that people throughout the year are aware of fire safety.

"Wind safety is a big deal," she said. "So if you have a fire, even in the winter months, make sure you soak, mix it and re-soak it."


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