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December 16th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 49
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Wildfire risk lowered by FireSmart grant
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: Blairmore Fire Department
2003 Lost Creek fire within site of Blairmore, Alberta.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
The Pass has been awarded a $60,000 FireSmart grant to help protect the community from the risk of wildfire and protect lives and property.

The provincial government awarded the grant after a panel of wildfire prevention experts reviewed the Pass’ application and decided it met all criteria. They also noted the municipality had a robust strategy already in place to help reduce the risk of wildfire to the community.

“The grant money aligned well with that strategy,” said Renato Gandia, press secretary for Agriculture and Forestry.

In past years, the funds were awarded sometime in late January or early February. The next step in the process is to get the grant agreements between the province and the municipality signed. Then the money can be officially awarded.

Fire crews were called out to combat more than 1,700 fires that covered nearly 500,000 hectares in 2015, which had the third highest number of wildfires in Alberta in the past 25 years.

“It was one of the busiest fire seasons on record. An early spring, along with dry conditions, strong winds and thunderstorms created ideal conditions for extreme wildfire behaviour in Alberta. Still, over half of the wildfires we saw this year were human-caused,” said Gandia.
continued below ...
Almost 3,000 Albertans were hired as emergency firefighters and about 1,200 additional firefighters and various aircraft were brought in from other provinces. Countries as far away as New Zealand also lent personnel and material.

Airtankers dropped almost 11,235,000 litres of retardant – more than would fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools – on the provinces wildfires.

In addition to the $139 million that was budgeted at the start of the season for wildfire prevention, preparedness and management, Alberta provided an additional $375 million in emergency funding to cover the costs of fighting wildfires this season.

Fifteen Alberta communities have been awarded similar grants for a total of $800,000 in funding.
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December 16th ~ Vol. 85 No. 49
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