Officials report first wildfire of the season

Wildland Fire Management staff have put out Yukon's first wildfire of the season. The fire was reported at 3 p.m.

Wildland Fire Management staff have put out Yukon’s first wildfire of the season.

The fire was reported at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, making it the earliest wildfire since 2007.

The fire was located on Ford Farm Road, 23 kilometres north of Whitehorse, off the Takhini Hot Springs Road. Firefighters worked with the homeowner to extinguish the fire.

Fire information officer George Maratos said the fire was lit last December to burn brush, but it wasn’t properly put out at the time.

During the winter, the embers smouldered beneath the snow, and the fire reignited after the snow had melted off.

Maratos said this type of fire, called a holdover fire, is fairly common.

He said people should remember to fully extinguish their fires, even in the winter, to prevent holdover fires from occurring.

“You want to douse the fire with water and stir it and douse it again and make sure it’s cold to the touch,” he said.

This fire was very small, measuring just 0.1 hectares. To put that in perspective, one hectare is about the size of two football fields.

But it does signal an early start to this year’s fire season. Maratos said above-average temperatures and an early snowmelt are to blame.

Still, a fire this early in the season doesn’t necessarily mean the wildfire season will be busier than usual.

Maratos said human activity, lightning strikes and rainfall will determine how many wildfires are ignited this summer.

“We’re not expecting it to be an extremely dry summer, but it can be challenging to forecast too far ahead,” he said. “It’s really hard to predict. You prepare for the worst season and you hope for the best season.”

Wildland Fire Management is reminding the public that burning permits are required for any open fires in the territory except campfires between April 1 and Sept. 30. Permits are free of charge and are available at local fire district or Energy, Mines and Resources offices. Within Whitehorse city limits, permits must be obtained from the City.

Fire officials are also asking residents to keep their fires to a manageable size, to avoid burning in windy conditions and to ensure fires are always monitored and fully extinguished.

Wildfires should be reported immediately to 1-888-798-FIRE (3473).

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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