Special Areas fire departments on double duty, respond to two fires

A side-by-side caught fire near Hemaruka Ab. spreading flames to a nearby field on Wed. April 24. Three fire departments, Special Areas grader, farmers and a water tanker all responded. ECA Review/Submitted

The Special Area Fire departments of Hanna, Veteran, Youngstown, Jenner, Cessford, and Buffalo were busy battling blazes on Wed. April 24 in two separate locations.

The first call came in at 4:11 p.m., summoning Hanna, Veteran, and Youngstown departments as well as local farmers and Special Areas graders and a water tanker.

A side-by-side had caught fire near Hemaruka, Ab. spreading to a nearby field thanks to leaking fuel and roughly 50 to 70 kilometre winds.

Special Areas Fire Chief Glen Durand cautioned that maintenance is important especially during dry spells.

“When you’re driving through some long grass and get some wheat seeds underneath there and they start to get hot enough and dry enough they can combust,” said Durand.

“We stress that you’re maintaining your equipment and blowing it off. Make sure there is no dead grass and brush and twigs laying in underneath in those pads and guards. Make sure your vehicle is clean.”

The winds caused embers to ignite the grass fire downwind.

The firefighters had the fire under control within a couple of hours but the landowners kept watch overnight for any hot spots.

Second call out

The second call came in just 20 minutes after the first.

This fire occurred at 4:31 p.m. when a plough wind blew over a trailer while travelling west on Highway 570 west of the 884 near Range Road 10-2.

When the trailer blew over onto its side, it generated sparks which set off a grass fire downwind of the 570 roadway.

Sixty to 70 kilometre winds were picking up at the same time as the incident.

Cessford, Big Stone, Jenner, Hanna and Buffalo fire crews attended this call along with Special Areas tankers and graders.

Over 300 acres of grassland was consumed.

Gusts of wind flipped a trailer on its side, causing sparks which caught the nearby ditch grass. ECA Review/Submitted

The fire was close to taking a farmyard but the owner was quick to disk the area around preventing the fire from entering.

“Farmers from the area were instrumental in containing this fire from threatening a farmyard,” said Special Areas Fire Chief Glen Durand.

First introduced last fall at community grassfire information sessions, Special Areas is providing Grassfire Safety Toolkits free of charge at local district offices beginning this May.

These kits include a fire safety quick reference booklet, information about operating equipment at grass fires, and FireSmart materials.

These kits are intended to help local residents and producers understand the steps they can take to better prepare for and respond to grass fires if they happen.

From assessing farmyards and residences to help reduce risk to providing general information on grass fires and safety, these kits will be available mid-May.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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