Grass fire strikes southern prairies near Iddesleigh

Written by Terri Huxley

The land freshly scorched by fire. Photo courtesy of Cheryl Stads

A large grass fire broke out between Princess, Alta. and Iddesleigh, Alta. south of Dinosaur Provincial Park on Thurs. July 22.

According to officials, 4,804 acres were burned with an additional flare-up of 13 acres on Mon. July 26.

The cause stems from a farmer’s tractor that caught fire but the specifics of how the fire erupted are yet to be determined by an investigation at this time.

The call came in at 3:15 p.m. and was then under control around 10 p.m.

Although the fire was within Patricia Fire Department’s area within the County of Newell, several departments from Special Areas and Cypress County also attended as the three municipalities share boundaries that meet near this area.

This includes the Bindloss Fire Department, Buffalo Fire Club, Cessford Fire Department, CFB Suffield Base, City of Brooks Fire Department, Cypress County Fire Services, Patricia, Rolling Hills, Scandia, Bow City, Bassano, Gem, Duchess, and Rosemary Fire Departments.

Some departments attended Friday, Saturday and Sunday to tend to flare-ups.

Water bomber planes were dispatched to the scene near Iddesleigh. Photo screenshot from @firedude2000’s video on TikTok

County of Newell Fire Chief Stewart Luchies shared that this was one of the largest scale fires he has attended, taking him about six and a half hours to drive around the area to determine how many acres were burnt including rough ground and coulees to maneuver. 

“At my time of being a firefighter within the County of Newell for 20 years, this definitely was one of the largest scale fires that had the most people at it to control. The cooperation from outlying counties was fantastic and greatly appreciated and the communication between all of the groups, while this exercise happened, was fantastic. Everyone worked great together to extinguish this as quick as possible,” stated Luchies.

At one point, there was an alert to have RCMP on standby to possibly have visitors of Dinosaur Provincial Park evacuated but with the constant changing of wind direction, the fire headed farther south which alleviated this concern.

Water bomber planes were also dispatched to the scene on behalf of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry – two units including an Electra Air Tanker and Bird Dog plane stationed out of Pincher Creek, Alta.

Quick Way, a local aerial spraying service came to drop water too including flare-ups across coulees on Thursday and Friday.

The land affected is owned by the Eastern Irrigation District as part of their community pasture lease program but no people or animals were harmed in this situation.

On top of this, farmers, Hutterite colonies, county graders and more attended the scene to fight and/or help in other ways by providing food and supplies.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.