The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) gave an update on the upcoming season, stating that they anticipate it to be an average to above average year for wildfires. 

Marlo Pritchard, SPSA President, spoke about the below average levels of precipitation the province experienced over the winter. 

“It is of no surprise that much of Saskatchewan received below average precipitation this past winter, and at this time the province is anticipating areas of drought, lower water tables, and higher temperatures for 2024,” Pritchard said. “This means that there are several areas of the province that are at a higher risk of grass fires this spring before green up.” 

Pritchard notes that while La Niña, with its typically cooler and wetter conditions, is expected this summer, but that those conditions are not guaranteed. 

As a result, the agency is preparing for this year’s wildfire season to begin earlier than years prior, and as a result has brought air and ground crews in for training two weeks early. 

Steve Roberts, Vice-President of Operations with the SPSA says that they will be bringing on the same number of permanent seasonal staff firefighters as in 2023 – 220 Type 1 firefighters, consisting of trained and experienced staff, and 410 Type 2 firefighters, contracted through formal agreements with First Nations organizations and northern communities.  

Should the need arise Type 3 firefighters – those hired on an emergency basis, will be brought in to assist. 

“It is drier than we have seen in a number of years, not the driest, but based on that we currently cannot predict the number of fires, or the size of those fires. It will 100 per cent be a combination of factors including weather, the number of fires, the size and location of those,” said Roberts. 

The agency urges everyone to take precautions in the spring and early summer months to prevent human caused wildfires. 

“About half of the wildfires in Saskatchewan are started by humans, with lightning causing the other half. In the early part of spring, we typically do not experience lightning, so the fires are most likely human caused,” said Pritchard. 

To bring awareness to fire prevention a series of advertisements will be put out by the SPSA on social media, radio, and other platforms.