Premier Danielle Smith says her government will bring in arson investigators from outside Alberta to trace the cause of wildfires that have been plaguing the province of late.
Jespersen had asked the premier how she would reconcile her government’s energy policies with what “every expert” he spoke to indicated—that “climate change is playing on our susceptibility to wildfire.”
“I think you’re watching, as I am, the number of stories about arson,” said the premier.
Smith said there are almost 175 wildfires in Alberta with no known cause at this point.
‘[To] have 175 fires that we don’t know the cause of—that’s unusual.”
Alberta has had an unprecedented start to its wildfire season, with fires scorching more than 10,000 square kilometres of forest since March.
Massive Forest FiresJespersen questioned Smith’s response, arguing given the “massive degree” of the fires, even if there was arson it doesn’t qualify as a primary cause.
“We’ve had wildfire experts on the show telling us that arson is not a leading cause of wildfires based on the science,” he said.
Smith admitted that her party has to do a better job as a government in making sure it is building fireguards.
“I think that the issue that we had faced is that there’s a lot of communities that we know, from what happened in Slave Lake and what happened in Fort McMurray, you have to make sure that when a forest fire begins that it doesn’t jump over into a town or a city because that’s when you end up with real trouble,” she said.
She stressed that forest fires of massive scale had happened in her province before.
“If I can point to the fact that we have had previous fire seasons, early in this century, where 1.3 million hectares were burned. We’re going to have forest fires. It’s the nature of what we have in Alberta.”