According to Derrick Forsythe, a wildfire information officer for Alberta wildfire, between May 21 till May 23, there were 85 wildfires across the province.

"Some of these are urban campfires that we found on patrols, but of those 86 wildfires, 76 were man-caused, and nine of those are under investigation."

Forsythe said that of the 76 human-caused wildfires, nearly all of them (59) originated from cooking or campfires. He also noted that none of the wildfires were large enough to cause tangible damage. 

"In Calgary, there were 44 wildfires detected over that period of time. 43 of them were human-caused. One is under investigation, and the remaining 42 were campfire related," Forsythe said. "The campfires that were left, either had small flames still present or with the really hot embers or coals. They didn't escape and become a major wildfire, but the issue is, is that the potential is always there."

However, he did also underline that there seems to be a downward trend in human-caused wildfires. In 2020, 88 per cent of all wildfires in the province were caused by humans, whereas in 2021, that percentage shrunk to 67 per cent. 

 "There's a really simple fix because every campfire out there is a potential wildfire, and every one of those campfires is easily extinguished. We can remove the threat with minimal effort. It's as simple as soaking it, stirring your campfire after you soak it the first time; then running your hand over the top of the coals. If it's still warm, soak it some more until like it's cool to the touch."

Alberta Wildfire is reminding the public that leaving a campfire burning can be catastrophic (Photo provided by Alberta Wildfire)Alberta wildfire is reminding the public that leaving a campfire burning can be catastrophic (Photo provided by Alberta Wildfire)

Forsythe reminded the public that if a fire can be traced back to them, a fine upwards of $600 dollars can be imposed.

"Springtime is the most dangerous time for wildfires. Coming out of the winter, we have all the fine fuels such as the grasses and if you have a campfire that has an open flame or it has active embers; if it gets windy and it blows the embers around, they land in some on that grass," he said. " [Then it] gets to it gets into coniferous forests."

Forsythe explained that trees such as spruces have branches that are near the ground, which are usually dry. If the fire reaches those trees, it can easily make its way up.

"That's what we call ladder fuel, which allows the fire to climb up the tree. If it's going pretty good, it can blow that flame to the next tree and on to the next one."

Currently, there are six wildfires active in the province. This year there have been 356 wildfires and 31 of them in the last week. 

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