The 2021 Alberta wildfire season has come to an end and despite hot summer weather conditions, officials say it was a below-average year in terms of how much area burned.
Oct. 31 marked the official end to wildfire season in Alberta, with a total of 1,307 wildfires burning 52,955 hectares — 130,855 acres — of land. According to Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, the five-year average in Alberta has seen about 1,123 wildfires burn 317,326 hectares — 784,129 acres — between 2016 and 2020.
“Our world-class wildland firefighting staff have worked diligently to keep Albertans and their communities safe,” Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen said in a media release.
“Despite seeing more wildfires than average starting over the dry spring and summer months, our expert staff were very successful in managing the fires, leading to less forest area being burned.”
Sixty-two per cent of the wildfires this season were caused by humans. The province said on average, the number of human-caused wildfires has been on the decline in recent years. The province touts wildfire prevention programs and Albertans doing their part for the reduction in the number of preventable wildfires.
This year, 33 per cent of wildfires were caused by lightning and about five per cent remain under investigation.
Because of the absence of large wildfires in Alberta, the province was able to send crews to eight other regions this summer. A total of 492 firefighters, aircraft and equipment were sent to other jurisdictions in need of help.
The province sent 111 firefighters and 64 support staff to British Columbia, where wildfire ravaged the province this season. An additional 250 firefighters and 12 support staff were sent to Ontario. Alberta also helped Manitoba, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, Alaska, Washington and the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
While wildfire season has come to an end, officials ask Albertans to continue to be cautious when enjoying the forests as dry conditions can continue through the fall and winter months.