Rocky View County issues fire advisory as wildfires burn across Alberta

An aerial image of a wildfire burning southeast of Fort McMurray this week. (Alberta Wildfire - image credit)
An aerial image of a wildfire burning southeast of Fort McMurray this week. (Alberta Wildfire - image credit)

Much of Alberta is now under a fire advisory, restriction or ban, including some rural municipalities in the Calgary area.

On Thursday, Rocky View County issued an advisory as rising temperatures, lack of moisture and windy conditions are expected to elevate the fire risk.

The counties of Mountain View, Vulcan and Foothills also came under fire restriction status this week.

However, officials are calling it a proactive measure.

"I know some places out west toward the mountains, you could have a lot more green and a lot more moisture out there." said Rick Saulnier, Rocky View County's director of community and emergency services.

"But if you look to the southeast of the county, it's pretty dry out there. And if you're driving around, you can see a lot of that dead, brown dry stuff."

Saulnier said crews have responded to a few minor grass fires in recent days.

A fire advisory means the danger rating has increased, according to the Government of Alberta. Fire permits could be restricted under this status, but safe campfires are allowed in campgrounds and backcountry or random camping areas.

A fire restriction disallows the use of wood campfires on public land but permits wood campfires inside provincial campgrounds and private property, while a fire ban prohibits wood campfires on public land, campgrounds and private land, including backyard fire pits.

Under a ban, the government said, fire permits will be suspended or cancelled and no new ones will be issued.

Provincial wildfire officials announced Wednesday that very dry conditions had prompted a fire restriction across the province's entire forest protection area, except the Calgary forest protection zone, which remains under a fire advisory.

It means outdoor fires and fireworks are prohibited on public lands, including backcountry and random camping areas. Campfires within fire rings in campgrounds are allowed.

As of Thursday, 205 fires have burned 755 hectares in Alberta this season. That's much higher than the five-year average for this time of year of 120 wildfires and around 230 hectares burned.

There were 58 active fires.