When the hot, dry weather of summer comes to James River and wildfires elsewhere in the province make the news, we can all take a moment to consider ways to make our individual James River retreats less vulnerable to wildfire. With first responders a minimum of 20 to 25 minutes away in the event of the unthinkable, anything we can do to protect our properties from fire is worth some care and attention.
To that end, here’s a great resource shared with us by the Forestry Division people out of Rocky Mountain House. The FireSmart Homeowner’s Assessment Guide is a handy checklist you can use to review your cabin and yard. Your final score will give you an indication of potential fire hazard levels and point you to the changes that will have the biggest impact in reducing your cabin’s risk from a wildfire.
The Alberta Sustainable Resources has declared another early start to wildfire season this year. This means that from now until October 31, any outdoor fire at James River Retreat other than a campfire requires a permit, no matter how small. Last season 58% of Alberta wildfires – more than 1000 – were caused by people and the other 42% were caused by lightning. That’s an improvement in the percentage of human-caused fires over last year but, even so, we still have work to do to reduce the risk of wildfire in our community. There are several excellent resources available for download from the Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Development website including The Homeowners Firesmart Manual. From managing potentially combustible vegetation and building materials around your cabin site to building a safe fire pit, this publication is full of useful tips designed to protect your cabin from wildfire. For information on fire bans and maps showing locations of current wildfires throughout the province, the government publishes Wildfire Status and Situation Reports here. And, yes, there’s an app for that, too.