$600 fine issued after Alberta wildfire sparked by exploding target during gender reveal party

A $600 fine has been issued after an exploding target at a gender reveal party started a wildfire in northern Alberta.

The wildfire sparked on May 31 in the Fort McMurray Forest Area and grew to be about 0.43 hectares in size, which is over half the size of a CFL football field.

Travis Fairweather, a wildfire information officer with Alberta Wildfire, said 10 wildland firefighters and support staff were dispatched to fight the wildfire, as well as firefighters from the local municipality.

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Fairweather said this is the third wildfire unintentionally started by an exploding target so far this season.

“While fireworks and exploding targets can be fun, they can also come with a hefty price tag if you inadvertently start a wildfire,” Fairweather said.

Written permission is required to use fireworks or exploding targets in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta.

Exploding targets are articles designed for consumer and commercial use that become reactive targets when hit by a projectile of sufficient velocity, according to the province. These articles could include an air gun, rifle, archery and binary kit exploding targets.

So far this year, 76 per cent of wildfires have been caused by humans and several remain under investigation. Last year, 88 per cent of wildfires in Alberta were caused by humans. The five-year average for human-caused wildfires is 68 per cent, according to Alberta Wildfire.

“These fires are all 100 per cent preventable,” Fairweather said.

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Anyone found to be responsible for starting a wildfire could be fined $600 or the cost of fighting the wildfire.

The individuals responsible in this case were issued a $600 fine, Fairweather said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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