KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Fire bans are being imposed across much of British Columbia and Alberta, as the wildfire season gets off to an early start with more than 170 burning in both provinces.

On Wednesday, the BC Wildfire Service announced a five-month open fire ban, from May 3 to Oct. 11, covering a swath of the province's Interior.

The ban on Category 3 fires in the Kamloops will prohibit people burning three or more fires on a property at the same time, or any single fire burning a pile larger than two metres in height or three metres in width.

Grass burns bigger than 0.2 hectares will also be banned, the service said.

Areas covered by the ban, which applies to all public and private land, will include the Lillooet, Kamloops, Merritt, Vernon and Penticton fire zones.

"This prohibition is being enacted to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety," the service said.

Drought conditions still cover much of B.C., and fire officials are worried about another challenging season after last year's record destruction, when fires scorched more than 28,000 square kilometres, destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands of people.

In Alberta, wildfire officials announced Wednesday that very dry conditions had prompted a fire restriction across the province's entire forest protection area except the Calgary forest protection zone, which remains under a fire advisory.

It means outdoor fires and fireworks are prohibited on public lands, including backcountry and random camping areas. Campfires within fire rings in campgrounds are allowed.

The BC Wildfire Service has announced a five-month open fire ban covering much of the province's Interior as fire season gets off to an early start.

Wildfire evacuation orders or alerts have already been imposed in both provinces, although some are now rescinded.

An emergency alert for Municipal District of Peace No. 135 in northwestern Alberta was cancelled late Wednesday, with firefighters holding the blaze that had been threatening the community.

The district said in a Facebook post that one home was seriously damaged by the fire and several outbuildings and vehicles were destroyed.

It said an evacuation order that involved about 30 people could soon be lifted.

An evacuation order for residents near Cold Lake First Nations, about 300 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, has been rescinded.

In B.C., a wildfire evacuation alert issued in the Interior over the weekend for the tiny town of Endako has also been rescinded, while another alert for the Burgess Creek wildfire in the Cariboo remains in place, with residents told to be ready to leave on short notice.

The 1,800-hectare Burgess Creek fire about 600 kilometres north of Vancouver continues to burn out of control, according to the wildfire service website, while the 25-hectare blaze that had been threatening Endako, a further 400 kilometres northwest, has now been contained.

There have been 177 fires in B.C. this year, burning 2,055 hectares. Of the 115 now burning, 44 started in the third week of April.

In Alberta, 205 fires have burned 755 hectares this season, much higher than the five-year average for this time of year of 120 wildfires, or around 230 hectares burned. Fifty-eight fires are active.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

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173 fires in Alberta, yesterday April 24