A fire ban was declared in Edmonton on Friday morning amid hot and dry weather conditions in the city.
“It’s tinder dry out there and the fire risk is extreme,” Edmonton fire chief Ken Block said.
The ban means open burning, fireworks, backyard fire pits, cooking stoves and barbecues that use fuels such as wood and briquettes are not allowed. Propane and gas barbecues can still be used during the ban.
“Even when barbecuing, I would ask folks to be diligent and make sure that that barbecue is not too close to their siding or to any combustibles, and that they never leave it unattended,” Block said.
The fire ban comes after a fire restriction was issued for the city on Monday.
The decision to implement a fire ban was based on the fire weather index, the City of Edmonton said in a media release Friday, which takes into account temperature, wind conditions, humidity and precipitation levels.
“May is typically the riskiest month from a wildfire, outside fire perspective,” Block said.
“The last week or 10 days is living up to that reputation, and certainly in the last number of days we’ve been experiencing between 11 and 15 outside fires a day, which is high.”
Block said it isn’t uncommon for a fire ban to be issued in Edmonton in May. It’s become somewhat of a trend over the past four or five years.
“May is not early. Often we’ve called fire bans in April. It depends on the conditions,” the fire chief said.
“It should be top of mind for all of our residents to expect the unexpected. There is no doubt that something is changing in our environment that is leading to a higher level of fire risk in the April, May time frame and that seems to be coming part of reality for us so it shouldn’t surprise us.”
While the ban is in place, the city is encouraging compliance over enforcement. However, anyone who does not comply with the fire ban could be fined. The fine could include the costs of emergency services, the city warned.
Smokers are asked to be extra vigilant when putting out their cigarettes.
“Let’s be respectful of the safety of the entire community. Typically it’s inattention, it’s a carelessly discarded cigarette or a match,” Block said.
“The catastrophic outcome of just a carelessly discarded cigarette or smoking material is significant.”
The fire ban will remain in place until further notice.
Conditions remained hot and dry across much of the province, with more than 10,000 people out of their homes due to a number of wildfires in northern Alberta.
As of 10 a.m. Friday, there were 29 wildfires in Alberta, nine of which were listed as out of control.
Fire bans were also in place for many regions across the province, including Red Deer and nearly all of northern Alberta. For the latest information on the Edmonton fire ban, visit the city’s website. Information on fire bans across the province can be found on the Alberta fire bans website.
Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of the northern Alberta wildfires