Investigators have deemed a wildfire that burned more than 676 hectares of forest north of Canmore, Alta., to be caused by an abandoned campfire.
The fire was first reported by members of the public on Sept. 4.
Alberta Wildlife officials said the fire originated near the base of Blackrock Mountain, a popular spot for hikers and hunters, and quickly grew in size as it moved north and up the mountain slope.
As the flames spread, members of the public were asked to avoid the area while firefighters, helicopters and air tankers rushed to get the fire under control.
In a news release Monday, the province said investigators are looking to speak with members of the public who were in the area between Aug. 30 and Sept. 4 who may have information on the fire.
In an effort to deter these incidents, in 2019, the province announced larger fines for non-compliance with campfire regulations.
Fines for failing to extinguish a campfire range from $600 to $840 and the current fine for an abandoned campfire is $600.
“There’s no excuse for leaving a campfire unattended,” Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen said in the news release. “Before you leave, ensure it’s completely extinguished: soak it, stir it and soak it again.
“Last year, 71 per cent of wildfires were caused by humans and were entirely preventable. We must do better.”
Anyone found responsible for starting a wildfire may also have to go to court and face additional charges and fines.
The recent human-caused wildfire also prompted officials to offer important tips to keep in mind when distinguishing a campfire, including letting the flames calm before attempting to put the fire out and then spreading out the embers in the fire pit.
Officials added that water and dirt should then be added to the embers until smoke or steam is no longer seen.
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