Province issues fire and booze bans

Dry windy conditions increase risk of more wildfires

Pack up your microwaves and fill your coolers with non-alcoholic beer. It’s the May long weekend 2011 Alberta-style.

The Victoria Day weekend traditionally marks the start of Alberta’s summer camping season. But this year’s three-day respite from the workweek will be tempered via government bans on alcohol at several provincial parks and a provincial ban on open campfires.

“The risk in this province remains extreme especially in northern Alberta” Premier Ed Stelmach told reporters. “As we head into the long weekend it’s crucial that we minimize the amount of fires starting.”

The fire ban which prohibits all wood briquette and propane/natural gas fires was triggered by high winds and wildfire conditions. About 100 fires are raging across the province.

It comes on the heels of a devastating fire in Slave Lake which forced thousands of residents to flee as the fire destroyed most of the town.

Violators can face fines up to $5000 and any costs associated with fighting the fire. The bans excludes municipalities but Calgary’s fire department issued a similar ban following the province’s announcement.

Meanwhile the province has probhibited alcohol at nine provincial parks and campgrounds. The province has issued similar bans since 2004 aiming to curb rowdy booze-fuelled behaviour.