The Wildfire update the Provincial government issued on May 23 showed some signs of wildfires slowing down.

During yesterday's media conference, Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen started off by sharing some good news.

"The hard work and preparation from Alberta Wildfire and Municipal Firefighters allowed us to take advantage of the recent rains, which has led to a significant decline in active wildfires since last week," explained Minister Loewen. 

Currently, there are 30 wildfires burning in the Forest Protection Area, 20 of which are fires that started back in 2023.

All of the wildfires are either under control or are being held.

One of those fires is in the Northern part of the Province, which began in the Northwest Territories back in 2023.

While firefighters from both Alberta and the Northwest Territories have been working to put the fire out, it currently presents minimal danger to infrastructure and other resources, and the fire on the Alberta side could be reclassified as being held in the next few days. 

Minister Loewen also attributed the lower wildfires this year to their response tactics and the improvements they made since last year.

"Demonstrated by the considerable decline in area burned. At this time last year, Alberta had over 520,000 hectares of forest burned. Whereas, so far in 2024, we have just under 29,000 hectares burned. To continue with the good news, last weeks out of control wildfire near Fort McMurray that prompted an evacuation order is now being held. And thanks to the favourable conditions, along with diligent work on behalf of firefighters and support staff, the evacuation order has been lifted and impacted Albertans have been able to return home."

As a result of the changes to wildfire danger levels, numerous fire restrictions and bans have been lifted or lowered.

The fire ban in the southern part of the Fort McMurray Forest Area has been lowered to a fire advisory, and the off-highway vehicle restriction has been lifted.

The Northern portion of the Fort McMurray Forest area is still under a fire ban and a fire advisory is in effect for the High Level Forest Area.

Minister Loewen reminded people during the media conference that while the number of current forest fires is encouraging, conditions can change drastically in Alberta, which can lead to heightened wildfire danger and activity.

Even with the rain that is expected in various parts of the province, it's advised to stay on top of wildfire risk levels to prevent human-caused wildfires.

"So far this year, 77 per cent of wildfires have been confirmed as human-caused, and many wildfires currently under investigation will fall under the human-caused category as well. This, unfortunately, is not good news," Loewen said.

Over the May long weekend, there were 25 abandoned campfires detected in the Calgary Forest Area, which were extinguished by patrol staff.

Loewen adds that if the conditions in the area were different over the weekend, any one of those could have turned into a wildfire.

"Each of the human-caused wildfires could cost you and me millions of dollars to fight, threatening our homes and communities. Favourable conditions and the efforts of our firefighters on the front line do not reduce the need for continued care and diligence," Loewen says.

He adds that as we move into summer, the conditions may become more favourable for wildfires and the human-caused fires can cause more damage.

"Since the beginning of the year, we have responded to 358 wildfires and 346 of those have been extinguished," said Alberta Wildfire Information Unit Manager Christie Tucker.

There were 33 new fires started over the May long weekend, and Tucker says that the majority of them were started by humans.

"I'd like to thank the many people who took care to follow the fire restrictions and bans in place to help us reduce human-caused wildfires this weekend," Tucker says. "As the weather warms up, we will respond if we see the wildfire danger rising again," Tucker says.

To stay up to date on fire bans in your area, click here.