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EDITORIAL: Wildfire season

While snow can linger well into May and make periodic appearances any other day of the year, the hot spots for potential fire dangers are around the corner.
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A traditional Alberta April can bring many things to the province.

A fresh blanket of snow can quickly be replaced by dry and warm conditions, sparking the official return of wildfire season.

Despite weather suggesting the contrary, wildfire season has returned to the province already. It will take up the better part of the year, running from March 1 to Oct. 31.

While snow can linger well into May in Alberta (and make periodic appearances any other day of the year), the hot spots for potential fire dangers are around the corner.

During this time, the dry spring and occasional bouts of summer weather can lead to skies filled with smoke, water bombers in the air, and coughing as if they’ve crushed a few packs of cigarettes because of the smoke.

As cliché as it sounds, it’s ultimately up to each person to take responsibility to prevent a worst case scenario with wildfires. Smokey Bear wasn't wrong when he famously said, 'Only you can prevent forest fires.'

Last year, 1,246 wildfires burned a combined total of 130,000 hectares of forest. The bulk of them – 61 per cent – were human-caused, with 38 per cent from lightning and one per cent remaining under investigation.

According to Alberta Wildfire, 218 wildfires were caused through recreation and another 161 were by residents.

The leading cause of detection, by a long shot, was members of the public, who called in 581 of the wildfires, followed by 288 reported from lookout towers.

Though most of Alberta’s wildfires take place in sparsely populated areas north of Edmonton, it doesn’t lessen the threat to areas such as Rocky View County. With nature playing a preeminent role in the region, the reality is it could take very little to cause a disaster.

The evacuation of Fort McMurray in 2016 remains fresh in the minds of all people in Alberta. Though it’s unlikely to happen on such a large and similar scale, it doesn’t lessen the need to prepare.

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