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Fire advisory in effect for Westlock County

Firefighters ask residents to revisit burn sites
WES brush fire
Westlock County firefighters are asking for caution around fire during the spring season, the most prone to brush fires that can turn into full-fledged wildfires. Burn sites should be revisited and properties kept clear of fire hazards like dried grass and leaves.

WESTLOCK — Westlock County is asking residents to revisit winter burn sites and report suspicious activity or fires immediately in preparation for the spring melt. 

A fire advisory has been in effect for the area since March 23, and the county’s firefighters are asking for caution since fires can burn underground for months. 

“These smoldering fires can resurface during the spring months on hot, dry and windy days, quickly becoming an out of control wildfire,” the advisory reads. 

“When checking your winter burn sites, spread around any remaining debris so you can probe the area for hotspots. Use your bare hand to feel for heat over the ash piles.” If there is smoke or heat, the hot spots should be doused with water. 

“A fire is not completely extinguished until there is absolutely no heat emanating from the ashes.” 

The county issued 98 fire permits and extensions in January and February, and two vegetation fire incidents have been reported so far. 

“This may be a bad year as COVID restrictions will drive human activity outdoors within our forested/grass regions, when you mix dry vegetation and careless humans it’s very concerning,” said John Biro, the county’s manager of protective services. 

The county is asking residents to clear needles and leaves from gutters and roofs, and keep a 10 metre buffer zone between homes and flammable vegetation, fences, firewood, debris or wooden outbuildings. 

“This fuel-free zone provides firefighters with a defensible space to assist in stopping a wildfire’s spread.” 

Brush fires should be supervised, firefighters say, and residents should make sure they have some firefighting tools like a shovel, a rake, sprinkler, roof-top ladder and hose. 

The county can help with home or yard wildfire assessments, and information on burning regulations and permits. 

Andreea Resmerita, TownandCountryToday.com