This year’s wildfire season fluctuated wildly across provinces. Here’s a look at the numbers


The Prairies Climate Change Project is a joint initiative between CBC Edmonton and CBC Saskatchewan that focuses on climate and our altering local weather. Meteorologist Christy Climenhaga brings her knowledgeable voice to the dialog to assist clarify climate phenomena and local weather change and the way they affect on a regular basis life.

With snow beginning to fly across Western Canada, marking the finish to this year’s wildfire season, we needed to see how the previous year’s fires in comparison with earlier years. 

On common, about 6,000 fires burn round 2.5 million hectares every year in Canada, and our warming local weather means we will count on longer and extra intense fireplace seasons.

So let’s dive in and take a look. 

More regular season for Western provinces

This season began on a moist be aware for a lot of Western Canada. 

British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan noticed regular rain proper into June. 

In Edmonton, we noticed twice the regular rainfall for June, with 140 millimetres in the month. In western Saskatchewan, areas like Kindersley noticed almost 96 mm in the month, once they sometimes would see 67 mm. 

The damp begin to the summer time made a massive dent in the wildfire season. 

“We had a very moist spring, which was nice for wildfire mitigation as spring sometimes tends to be the time that we see catastrophic wildfires,” stated Melissa Story, a provincial info officer with Alberta Wildfire.

“It was adopted up with a few months of sizzling, dry circumstances which positively elevated the fireplace hazard … We noticed a variety of wildfires, however we had been capable of hold them contained.”


Overall, Alberta noticed greater than 1,200 wildfires this 12 months that burned about 153,000 hectares.

For comparability, near 800,000 hectares burned in Alberta in 2019 throughout a significantly risky wildfire season that included blazes corresponding to the Chuckegg Creek fireplace close to High Level, which burned effectively over 300,000 hectares and compelled 1000’s of individuals in northwestern Alberta from their houses.

This year’s wildfire quantity is barely greater than the five-year common of 1,035, however lower than the five-year common for hectares burned – round 208,000.

“We’ve had a comparatively common 12 months this 12 months up to now in the province,” says Story.

That being stated, fireplace did make its mark.

Notable fires this 12 months included massive expanses of the Fort McMurray forest, a wildfire in the Rocky Mountain House space, and the Chetamon Mountain fireplace close to Jasper that knocked out energy to the city. 

Saskatchewan noticed a barely busier season, surpassing its five-year common for each variety of fires and hectares burned.

There had been 443 wildfires this 12 months in comparison with the five-year common of 379.

Firefighters work towards a wildfire close to Stanley Mission, Sask., about 55 kiliometres northeast of La Ronge, in June. (La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook)

Kara Slobodzian, media relations supervisor with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, stated fires in that province this 12 months included a blaze that burned over 12,000 hectares and compelled evacuations in Stanley Mission, about 80 kilometres northwest of La Ronge.

Late and quieter season for B.C.

Last 12 months was horrendous for wildfires in British Columbia. Lytton burned to the floor killing two individuals, and the White Rock Lake fireplace north of Kelowna burned over 80,000 hectares and destroyed 78 properties in the central Okanagan.

This 12 months, B.C. additionally noticed a gradual begin to the season, with cool and moist climate this spring.

“The vitality buildup simply wasn’t there provided that [fires] had been beginning later in July or August,” says Forrest Tower, a fireplace info officer for British Columbia.

“The burning window, so the time and the day that a fireplace can burn, was simply shorter and shorter as we moved into fall.”

However, this 12 months there have been over 1700 fires, a few extra fires than the province’s 10-year common. Around 133,000 hectares burned, near 300,000 hectares fewer than the 10-year common.

“We had been fairly busy all through July, August and all of September virtually and even now into the finish of October,” says Tower.

Pockets of flames are seen in a dense forest, with smoke rising.
At its peak, the Battleship Mountain wildfire got here inside 4 kilometres of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam and eight kilometres of the group of Hudson’s Hope in northeastern B.C. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Despite the busy finish to the season, Tower says it was a totally different story than previous extreme seasons as seen in 2017, 2018 and 2021.

“We had durations, very brief durations, the place a whole bunch of fires had been beginning in massive geographic areas [in those years],” he says.

“We did not have the capacity to shortly get to each single a type of fires inside the time you can hold it beneath preliminary assault measurement.”

This 12 months, Tower says, the fires had been rather more spaced out, permitting responders to maintain them beneath that preliminary assault measurement — beneath one hectare inside 24 hours.

“Our preliminary assault success was actually good. So we had been capable of type of get to fires shortly.”

Larger fires in the territories

This longer heat fall has actually bumped numbers in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. 

At 257 fires this 12 months, the numbers appear decrease. But the space burned was vital. 

In the N.W.T., the season was busy from the begin, and remained extremely energetic till mid-October, which is very uncommon for the area. 

This 12 months the territory noticed wildfires burn over 680,000 hectares, surpassing the five- and 10- 12 months averages.

Moderate drought circumstances and heat fall temperatures helped feed the flames. 

Though busy, fireplace officers say this season nonetheless pales compared to the outlier season of 2014, when 3.5 million hectares burned in the territory. 

Climate change and fireplace seasons

As our local weather continues to vary, fireplace seasons are anticipated to get longer and extra extreme. 

Hot temperatures in the summer time and never sufficient rain to compensate for the moisture misplaced will probably be elements going ahead. 

“We’re seeing a rise in how lengthy fireplace seasons go on on each ends. So we’re seeing typically fires begin fairly a bit earlier after which additionally nonetheless are capable of begin fairly a bit later,” says Tower, the fireplace info officer in B.C. 

“It’s often pushed a method or the different and it actually simply is dependent upon precipitation obtained in our snowpack ranges, and the earlier year’s drought code.”

Tower says with the dry climate this fall, subsequent fireplace season will probably be one to observe. 

“Unless we get vital precipitation and a excessive snowpack, we’re probably beginning spring in a very dry situation.”

He says that if we see warming traits in the early a part of subsequent 12 months, it may very well be an early begin to the fireplace season. Extreme climate performs a position, too.

“The warmth dome had a big affect in 2021 on our fireplace season. So any type of occasion like that may actually drastically change how the remainder of the summer time progresses for positive.”

Our planet is altering. So is our journalism. This story is a part of a CBC News initiative entitled “Our Changing Planet” to point out and clarify the results of local weather change. Keep up with the newest information on our Climate and Environment web page.


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