Alberta to start wildfire season a month early to ensure crews are ready

EDMONTON - Alberta is starting its wildfire season a month early after flames last year torched almost 5,000 square kilometres.

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Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier says the extra time provided with the March 1 launch will ensure crews are prepared to respond quickly to any wildfires that break out in the early spring.

Last year, there were 1,786 wildfires in Alberta -- more than twice the 25-year average.

Alberta has been starting its wildfire season a month early since a 2011 fire that destroyed part of the town of Slave Lake and forced thousands of people from their homes.

The province says crews last year managed to contain 93 per cent of wildfires within about a day and prevented flames from entering any communities.

The early start of the wildfire season will also require people who live in Alberta's forested zone to obtain fire permits a month early, although campfires are excluded.



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