Did you know that recreational activity is one of the leading causes of wildfires in Alberta? In 2020, 88% of wildfires were completely preventable. They were the direct result of people not taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of wildfire; and that neglect can prove costly.

‘Leaving a campfire unattended can result in a $600 fine or worse,’ says Melissa Story, provincial information officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. ‘If your unattended campfire is found to be the cause of a wildfire, you could be on the hook for the cost of fighting the wildfire.’

Here’s what you can do to help prevent wildfires:

Getting started

Before heading out to enjoy a campfire, check Albertafirebans.ca to ensure that campfires are permitted in your area.

Selecting an appropriate site at a campground

If you are at a campground, use the designated stoves, rings and fire pits. They are designed to keep fires from spreading and are the best choice for a safe campfire.

Avoid using sites that are near dry grass, heavy bushes, leaves, logs, peat areas or overhanging branches.

Ensure your campfire is on level ground and sheltered from the wind. A breeze can carry sparks from your fire to flammable material nearby.

Preparing a site outside a designated campground

Safe wood campfires should be within a metal, brick, or rock fire ring. They are required to:

  • be on rock, gravel, sand, or another non-combustible surface that extends at least one metre around the fire
  • have a responsible person in attendance to keep fire under control at all times and extinguish before leaving
  • have enough water on site to extinguish the fire.

Extinguishing your campfire

When you’re finished with the campfire, make sure you properly extinguish it. First, let the fire burn down well before you plan to put it out. Next, spread the embers inside the fire pit. Be careful to keep the embers within the fire pit. Add water or loose dirt to the fire pit and stir it around.

Dig around the fire pit and expose any material that is still burning before adding more water or loose dirt. Continue until you no longer see smoke or steam rising from the pit.

Don’t just bury your fire and leave it – embers will continue to smolder underground and can re-emerge as a wildfire.

Your campfire is fully extinguished when its ashes are cool to the touch.

‘Soak it, stir it, soak it again. By following these easy steps, Albertans can help prevent accidental wildfires.’ says Story.

Visit albertafirebans.ca to find all the latest fire bans across the province.

Contact

For more information, contact the Provincial Information Officer:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-420-1968
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: [email protected]

For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line:
Phone: 780-422-1005