With a fire having destroyed two Okotoks homes early last week and having severely damaged another in High River on Sunday, the Okotoks Fire Department is hoping to spread some awareness to prevent further incidents.

Both fires were determined to have started outside, which makes sense given that Alberta's wildfire season starts in March.

Okotoks Fire Chief Trevor Brice says the melted snow doesn't provide as much moisture as you might think, and that prairie fields aren't the only areas in danger of catching fire.

"The grass is actually very dry, this is where we get a lot of wildland fires. What we suggest to people is to start that cleanup for spring. I'm not saying we're not going to get more snow, but certainly start that cleanup now, any leaves that are left, dry grass. In between your houses especially, make sure that's clean, don't store anything between houses."

With barbecues and fire pits always being popular fixtures in the summer months, he recommends checking both to make sure they're in working condition.

While residents are encouraged to smoke outside, Brice says smokers need to take care when extinguishing cigarettes.

"A lot of outdoor fires start from smoking, so while we recommend that people do smoke outdoors, we have to be cognizant that when we dispose of the butt end that we're doing it properly. What people don't realize is that plant pots have got quite a lot of organic material in them such as peat and moss, which are very combustible, so if we put a butt end out in that, very likely it'll start to smolder and start a fire."

He recommends getting a proper receptacle for cigarette butts, preferably metal, and using water to ensure they're fully extinguished.

Regarding the recent fire in Okotoks, Brice says it traveled to the second home so quickly that by the time crews arrived, their main focus was to avoid further spread, given how much the blaze had already enveloped the second home.

Luckily, crews kept the blaze under control, with a nearby house suffering damage to its plastic siding, exposing the wood underneath.

Brice says it's a testament to how Alberta's dry conditions and heavy wind can spark these fires and spread them long before anyone can respond.

The town has shared some best practices for fire prevention on their website.