Wildfire near Banff sparked by abandoned campfire finally extinguished after 10 months

·2 min read
A photo taken on Sept. 11, 2020, captures lingering smoke from the wildfire near Devil's Head summit in Alberta during a hazy sunset. (Robson Fletcher/CBC News - image credit)
A photo taken on Sept. 11, 2020, captures lingering smoke from the wildfire near Devil's Head summit in Alberta during a hazy sunset. (Robson Fletcher/CBC News - image credit)

Nearly 10 months after it was sparked by an abandoned campfire, an Alberta wildfire near Banff National Park has been extinguished.

The Devil's Head wildfire burned 2,420 hectares of forest since it was discovered on Sept. 4, 2020. That's the equivalent of 12 University of Calgary campuses.

It was the largest wildfire in Alberta last year, and raged out of control until mid-October, when it was classified as held. It continued to be monitored over the winter.

At one point, the nearby Municipal District of Bighorn was on notice to evacuate should the fire turn toward residential areas.

The fire was started by an unattended campfire in the area near Devil's Head summit, in either the last week of August or first week of September. At the time, the province was accepting tips about any campers or hikers seen in that area.

Fines for failing to extinguish a campfire can range from $600 to $840, although those found responsible for starting a wildfire could face additional charges or fines in court. Alberta Wildfire said in an email that there was not sufficient evidence to lay charges against the individuals responsible for the Devil's Head fire.

Last year, 704 wildfires burned 3,269 hectares (8,068 acres) of land in Alberta — and 88 per cent of the fires were caused by humans.

Wildfire season runs from March 1 to Oct. 31. A list of current fire bans is available on the province's website.

Alberta Wildfire asks people to let fires burn down before extinguishing by spreading embers within the fire pit and adding water or loose dirt. Campers should add water until they can no longer see smoke or steam, and until the ashes are cool to the touch. Don't bury a fire, as the embers can smoulder before later re-emerging.

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