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Caution: Winter Burning

Spring wildfires can result from smouldering winter burns.

Snow and colder temperatures in winter, do not necessarily mean a slower start to the wildfire season. Wildfire hazard in Alberta is largely dependent on spring precipitation, particularly through late March to the end of May.

Many people take advantage of the colder temperatures to burn debris and brush on their land. While this is a perfectly normal practice, please ensure that fires are extinguished fully so that they do not cause wildfires later in the year. 

Fires that aren't properly extinguished can spread and burn underground, including under snow and ice, all winter, and under the right conditions these fires can then reemerge in the spring as wildfires. It is recommended that landowners regularly revisit all fall and winter burn sites to ensure that fires are out. Roll over any debris to check for hot spots, including looking for melting snow around the edges, heat, or the smell of smoke.

To reduce the risk of reemerging fires:

  • Ensure that you have all the proper tools at the site, including an axe, shovels, and at least 200 litres of water
  • Be aware of forecasted wind conditions
  • Do not attempt to burn more than you can control
  • Actively manage burn projects to reduce disposal time and smoke
  • Ensure you have all necessary fire permits and have taken all precautions

If you have any questions about winter burns, you can contact our Protection Services Department at (780) 864-3760 or email

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