Premier Danielle Smith attributes most of Alberta’s wildfires to ‘human activity’

‘I can also tell you that all but one were [caused by] human activity,’ Premier Danielle Smith told reporters. She urged locals to promptly call their local authorities when a fire is inadvertently set.

Premier Danielle Smith attributes most of Alberta’s wildfires to ‘human activity’
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told reporters Thursday that human activity remains the cause for most wildfire activity in the province thus far.

“Will you acknowledge that climate change is driving these massive fires?” asked a reporter. Smith stressed the importance of a “dual message” to Albertans this season.

“We have to be concerned about climate change,” she replied. “But I can also tell you that all but one were [caused by] human activity.”

The premier urged locals, who inadvertently set a fire, to promptly call their local authorities to address the situation.

“We have to be responsible and send the message to the community [that] they've got to be careful,” she said.

“They have to be careful when it's dry. They have to be careful when they have campfires, use equipment or burn garbage.”

On April 24, Todd Loewen, minister for forestry and parks, attributed human activity for all the wildfires active at the time.

“We expect that almost all of the wildfires we've experienced so far this year are human-caused, given the point we're at in the season and the types of weather we're seeing,” he said.

More than 170 wildfires were put out then, with 63 wildfires burning across the province's forest protection area.

According to the most recent wildfire update from the Government of Alberta, 294 wildfires are burning a total of 92,448 hectares in the province.

“Last year on this date, there had been 417 wildfires that burnt a total of 461,147 ha.,” reads a government news release.

In the past 5 years on this date, an average of 254 wildfires have burned an average of 92,680 hectares.

Loewen urged fellow Albertans last month to obey all local fire bans and restrictions in forested areas.

"I urge you to assess your property for wildfire danger and take any preventive action you can to address these risks," he said, noting they should break up fuel sources that could ignite a structure.

Loewen added that community members should be aware of fire bans in the area. "These preventative measures play a crucial role in reducing human-caused wildfires when risk levels are high," he said.

Last year, the province hired out-of-province arson investigators owing to the abnormally destructive wildfire season.

It was suspected that arson, not purported climate change, was to blame for a number of the large fires.

Throughout the 2023 wildfire season, 1,094 fires burnt a record 2.2 million hectares. The five-year average is 1,110 wildfires, though 2023 saw 10 times the hectares burned.

A wildfire is classified as out of control at approximately 1500 hectares, the Alberta government reports.

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  • By David Menzies

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