EDMONTON – Oct. 31 marked the end of wildfire season in Canada, and it was one of the busiest ones in a quarter century for Alberta.
The province held an event Friday recognizing the front-line firefighters and support staff at the Alberta Wildfire Program.
“I thank each and every person here who joined together to fight these fires,” said Oneil Carlier, minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “Your work is crucial to preserving Albertan lives, properties, and their livelihoods.”
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“But as challenging as this season was for Alberta, we thankfully did not experience the profound loss we did in 2011.”
Natalie Romain is in her fifth season of fire fighting with the province.
She said, with so many fires this season, “you know at the beginning of every shift that you are going to a wildfire. And you know for those 15 days, you’re going to be working hard day-in and day-out.”
Romain said when her whole crew was focused and making progress, it made up for the long days of trekking through difficult bug-filled terrain with wet feet, carrying squished sandwiches in her pockets.
“There isn’t any easy way out when it comes to wildfires, you’ve got to be tough.”
This season was also tough on Alberta’s balance sheet.
The province originally budgeted $139 million for the 2015 season, but ended up spending almost four times as much after $375 million in emergency funding was put towards the fight.
This season, Alberta saw the third-highest amount of wildfires in the past 25 years.
Sixty were over 200 hectares in size – that’s three times the amount of large fires when compared to the 25-year average.
From total hectares burned, to the number of firefighters imported from other countries, this Alberta Wildfire 2015 Infographic sums the season up:
Alberta Wildfire 2015 Infographic