Fire Chief urges caution as five human-caused fires set in Fort McMurray Forest Area in 48 hours

Multiple human-caused fires have been started in the region while the fire danger levels in the Fort McMurray Forest Area are high.

According to Regional Fire Chief, Jody Butz, five human-caused fires had been started in the region since Tuesday.

Fire Investigators continue their investigations, but at this time have determined the following causes:

  • A human-caused fire resulting from an unattended campfire began on tower road – smoke bombs were hanging in the tree at the fire scene
  • A human-caused fire began northwest of the Parsons Creek Overpass on the utility road
  • Two human-caused fires were started in Janvier
  • The fire in the tree line behind Morgan Heights is human-caused, and the area of origin has been determined

“The conditions we are experiencing are extremely dry, and the foliage has already fallen, creating above average wildfire risk. I am urging anyone who enjoys the outdoors and trail systems, to do so responsibly and diligently — careless and reckless choices with campfires, smokers’ materials and debris in OHVs are leading causes of human-caused fires in the forest area. OHV use is always restricted in Fort McMurray, and keeping your OHV clear of debris regularly can cut down on these risks.  Human-caused fires strain resources and create unnecessary risk to the community,” says Regional Fire Chief, Jody Butz.

According to Alberta Wildfire, 67 per cent of wildfires were human-caused in 2021.

An Alberta Wildfire spokesperson explained that regarding penalties for human-caused fires, their first tool of defense is education.

“Warnings can be given, tickets can be issued, and they range from $360 to $1200 per violation…under the Fire Protection Act the maximum fine that can be levied is $100,000 or imprisonment for up to two years in the case of an individual, or $1,000,000 in the case of a corporation,” the Alberta spokesperson explained.

Residents are asked to use extra caution if they’re heading into the forest areas at this time as it’s “an unusual fall” and to check before leaving the house.

Fires can be caused by off-highway vehicles, so Alberta Wildfire recommends that individuals look behind them often while riding and check their OHVs’ hotspots.

If you’re having a campfire, make sure that it’s in a designated ring on bare ground, and properly extinguish your fire by soaking it, stirring it, and soaking it again.

If you see smoke or flame in the forest call 310-3473.

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