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COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season, says expert

COVID-19 may cause a drop in spring wildfires as people are still being asked to self-isolate throughout May, Alberta’s riskiest fire month, says a University of Alberta expert.

“Since we’re still staying at home in May, there are fewer people recreating or working in the forests and human-caused fires will be reduced,” said wildfire scientist Mike Flannigan.

“Over 80 percent of Alberta’s wildfires in May are started by humans.”

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Potential ignition sources like campfires or sparks from recreational vehicles will be less likely to set dry, winter-killed vegetation on fire .

“Last year, May was hot and dry, so it was a very active season in terms of area burned, like the Chuckegg Creek fire,” Flannigan said. That wildfire broke out in mid-May of 2019 and forced the evacuation of 3,000 people from the town of High Level and surrounding area in northern Alberta.

In total across the province, 989 wildfires burned more than 883,400 hectares of forest last year; 71 percent of the blazes were human-caused.Aside from observing COVID-19 restrictions, people need to be vigilant about mitigating wildfires, Flannigan warned.”They are preventable, so observe all fire bans and forest closures. And if you are planning a burn, obtain a […]

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