Due to the warm, dry spring Edmonton has experienced so far this year, there is now a fire restriction in place.
Open burning and fireworks are currently prohibited within city limits. The restriction will remain in effect until further notice, the City of Edmonton said in a news release Friday.
Backyard fire pits and recreational cook stoves in parks are still allowed, but Edmonton Fire Rescue Services urges people to use caution.
“In early spring, there is a heightened risk in natural areas and great caution is necessary by people using these areas,” EFRS said.
If warm and dry conditions continue throughout the spring, EFRS warned a fire ban may be implemented, restricting the use of backyard fire pits, cooking stoves in parks and barbeques using solid fuels like wood and briquettes.
The warning comes as Global Edmonton’s chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer is calling for temperatures in the city to be in the high teens on Saturday.
The city says it will work to encourage compliance over enforcement, but fines or charges may be considered if the activity causes a safety issue.
EFRS also reminds smokers to properly dispose of smoking material to avoid “devastating effects” in these dry conditions.
Fire bans and restrictions issued in Edmonton area
There are also dozens of fire advisories and restrictions in place across the province, including a fire ban west of Edmonton in Parkland County. On Wednesday afternoon, firefighters there responded to a wildfire, which burned about 50 hectares.
“Right we’re seeing extreme conditions with a lot of the grass, the finer fuels, the small shrubs, things like this. They haven’t got a lot of moisture in them,” said Parkland County fire chief Brian Cornforth.
“Fire conditions are literally explosive when we do see a fire and a little bit of a wind happening.”
As of Friday afternoon, more than a dozen Alberta municipalities had issued fire bans, another 25 had fire restrictions and more than 40 had issued fire advisories.
Parkland County and the Village of Spring Lake have issued fire bans. The City of Leduc, Leduc County, Lamont County, and Sturgeon County have issued fire advisories.
“The last couple of weeks, we’re had a number of ground cover fires within our county, large hay bale fires. It’s pretty dry,” Brad Gurmin, the fire marshal for Leduc County Fire Services, said.
With not much lightning at this time of the year, many wildfires are human caused, said Melissa Story, a provincial information officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“We encourage Albertans, if they’re out having campfires to soak the ashes, stir them, and soak them again to make sure they’re completely extinguished,” Story said.
Wildfire season started in Alberta on March 1 and it runs until Oct. 31.
Anyone found to be responsible for causing a wildfire could be responsible for paying the costs to fight the fire. Anyone who sees a forest fire is urged to call 310-FIRE.
For the current wildfire risk and more information on fire bans, visit Alberta Wildfire’s website.