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Monday, August 21, 2017

Fire bans continue, hot and dry harvest season sparking fires


Fire bans in effect for most of southern Alberta

Area fire chiefs want to remind residents that a Fire Ban is in effect for most of southern Alberta, due to above normal temperatures, forecasted to continue, which continue to create the potential for fire starts and extreme fire behavior. The above normal temperatures are forecasted to continue. If you have a fire start or see a fire call 911 immediately.  Fire bans are in effect for the Town of Pincher Creek, the MD of Pincher Creek, and Piikani First Nation. All fires are banned and fire pit permits are suspended until further notice.

"If you see something that looks like smoke right now, we would rather go and investigate and find it is just dust, than find out it is too late and we have a wildfire." - Peigan Fire Chief Floyd Provost


Aftermath of fire at Piikani Nation (Peigan Fire photos)
Stubble fire at Piikani Nation

Peigan Fire responded to a stubble fire that was reported to 911 at 5:22 pm on August 18. Fort Macleod Fire provided mutual aid and assistance. The fire was burning south of the Peigan CPR Crossing in Band Farmland. Fire crews were on-scene until just after 12:30 am August 19. According to Peigan Fire Chief Floyd Provost a harvester was swathing a crop when a spark was created from contact with a rock, igniting straw stubble. The fire burned eastward approximately half a kilometre to the reserve boundary fenceline pushed by a westerly wind; and then crossed the municipal boundary and burned approximately two kilometers into the MD of Willow Creek before being contained by the creek bottom there. The fire burned a total length of approximately 2.5 km, and was approximately 1 km at the widest point. A large number of local farmers assisted in containing the fire. RCMP from Fort Macleod and Peigan assisted with traffic control and notification of a possible evacuation. Crop land, pasture land, a hay field, and fence lines were lost to the fire. Fire units were instructed to protect the power transmission line in the immediate area.


"With the tinder dry conditions right now, everybody should be aware right now, and be cautious about fires," said Provost. "Safety is paramount." He encouraged people to not wait before calling 911 with smoke sightings right now. "If you see something that looks like smoke right now, we would rather go and investigate and find it is just dust, than find out it is too late and we have a wildfire.

"With harvest in full swing, a lot of farmers are being extra cautious," added Provost, including having a water truck nearby when working in the fields, or having equipment ready to make a fire perimeter if anything does spark up.

Smoke from this fire could be seen far east of Fort Macleod.

Bale fire at Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony

Bale fire at PC Hutterite Colony
Pincher Creek Emergency Services (PCES) responded to a bale fire at the Pincher Creek Hutterite Colony on Sunday, August 20 at approximately 11:30 am.  The colony is located two miles west of Pincher Creek, just north of Highway 507.  Approximately one acre was affected, and approximately 30 straw bales were consumed.  The fire was largely under control by the time PCES arrived due to quick action from colony members.  "The Colony had actually put a guard around it with a disc (harrower), when we arrived," said PCES Chief Dave Cox.  PCES and the members of the colony worked together, breaking open bales and extinguishing the fire.  Cox explained that sparks caused by machinery or metal striking rock can easily turn into a blaze in the dry conditions we currently are experiencing.


For more information about fire bans in Alberta visit https://albertafirebans.ca

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