Dry and windy conditions spark grass fire season
It’s grass fire season once again in Red Deer and Mountain View counties, with at least three blazes reported within the last two weeks.
Despite some rain and spring snowfall, in certain areas conditions have been “surprisingly dry,” according to Innisfail Fire Department Chief John Syroid, who attended a grass fire on the evening of April 11.
The dry conditions, mixed with winds and open fires, create the spark needed to get the flames going, according to Syroid.
The April 11 fire, which occurred 15 miles east of Innisfail, burned an estimated 20 to 25 acres of stubble field, and was started from a burning brush pile that the wind blew onto, creating the spark, said Syroid
The Innisfail department also attended a Red Deer County farmyard fire the weekend before, where the wind caught the flames of an open burning barrel.
“The wind is a huge factor with the dry conditions,” said Syroid. “People need to be diligent about fire safety. Burning barrels are usually the cause of at least a couple of these fires a year.”
Keeping surveillance on any open fires is key in preventing grass fires from starting, along with having a metal grate on top of burning barrels, Syroid said.
“When it’s dry, people have to be careful,” added Syroid.
The Olds Fire Department was also called out to a field fire last week in Mountain View County, west of Highway 766 and a few miles south of Highway 27.
The Alberta government declared March 1 as the start of wildfire season so that people, equipment and aircraft are in place early after a mild winter left many areas with little or no snow, and dry forest conditions.
Wildfire season usually is declared to start on April 1.
So as of March 1, all burning activities in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area, excluding campfires, require a fire permit which are free and available at any Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) office.
The Alberta Forest Protection Area includes two portions of Mountain View County:
• west of Rge. Rd. 54 from Twp. Rd. 310 to the south boundary (covered by Calgary SRD office), and
• west of Rge. Rd. 60 from Twp. Rd. 312 to the north boundary (covered by Rocky Mountain House SRD office).
As well, all individuals are required to obtain fire permits from their fire guardians for any burning within the Mountain View County Fire Protection Area, which includes the areas:
• south of Hwy. 27 - west of Hwy. 22 up to Rge. Rd. 60 except the area south of Twp. Rd. 310 where the west boundary is Rge. Rd. 54 to the south boundary
• north of Hwy. 27/S.H. 584 -west of S.H. 766 up to Rge. Rd. 60 up to the north boundary.
Free fire permits are available from designated fire guardians throughout the fire protection area.