New fire protection measure in force in oil-rich Alberta

The oil sector last year was idled last year by wildfires in the Fort McMurray region.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 31, 2017 at 6:50 AM
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March 31 (UPI) -- After wildfires last year hobbled Alberta's oil sector, the provincial government said Friday marks the start of enforcement of new protection regulations.

Alberta lies at the center of Canada's oil sector and blazes in and around Fort McMurray last year sidelined about 1 million barrels per day in oil production at its peak. That would represent about a quarter of the total Canadian oil production by today's standards.

Alberta declared March 1 as the official start of wildfire season and Friday marks the first day of enforcement for new protection measures. More than 235 square miles of land were scorched by wildfires last year.

"Last fall, we passed important legislation to help deter unsafe behavior and give our wildland firefighters more tools to keep Albertans and their communities safe," Oneil Carlier, the provincial minister of agriculture and forestry, said in a statement. "These strengthened regulations send a clear message that we all share a responsibility to help prevent wildfires."

The measures include restrictions on fireworks and other explosives and include penalties for individuals of up to $75,000 and up to $750,000 for industrial users per offense.

Outside of the oil sector, the government estimated about 4,000 small businesses were impacted by the wildfires in an area that contributes about $70 billion to national gross domestic product.

More than 1,300 wildfires were recorded last year and the government estimated that about 60 percent of those were triggered by human activity.

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