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Sam MacDonald photo
Sam MacDonald photo
Fire crews from St. Paul and Glendon responded to a fire in a field near St. Vincent on Wednesday afternoon. The fire started after a previous controlled burn restarted in the windy conditions.
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Fire season starts

May 06, 2014 12:15 pm | Sam Macdonald

The St. Paul and Glendon volunteer fire departments responded to a call near St. Vincent on April 30, where a controlled burn thought to be extinguished restarted in a farmer’s field.

“Unfortunately, the cause of the fire was a controlled burn east of St. Vincent,” said St. Paul Fire Chief Trevor Kotowich.

The controlled burn was a county resident burning brush piles on Tuesday night. The fire was extinguished, but conditions for it to start again became favourable on Wednesday. Winds up to 40 km/h brought embers to a stubble field, and the fire almost crossed into the MD of Bonnyville.

“It may be damp in the morning, but as the day goes on, the wind picks up and things dry up. On the surface all that dead grass and in this case, a stubble field, is extremely dry. It doesn’t take much to take off, and that was the situation in there,” said Kotowich.

He added, “The neighbours noticed, and we and the Glendon Fire Department arrived at the scene,” said Kotowich.

The fire was controlled and fire department personnel were able to get a handle on the situation quickly once arriving on the scene. Both departments were able to get the hot spots extinguished within two hours.

“Thankfully, it was relatively small. It got into the bush but was contained quickly. There was a neighbour with a cultivator and tractor and he helped contain it by digging up the ground,” said Kotowich.

Kotowich noted that at no point, were any structures at risk.

After dealing with the fire, there was a call for another incident near St. Edouard, where the wind knocked out a power line that struck a tree. By the time fire department members got there, the fire was already out and ATCO was called to deal with the downed line.

“We’ve had a good start to the fire season for us, locally. You could say Wednesday was our kick-off with a couple of calls,” said Kotowich, adding, “With wet conditions, we haven’t experienced much of a spring fire season for the most part. However, these conditions can change dramatically and overnight.”

Kotowich says wind is a key factor in triggering dry conditions that lend themselves to fires. A change in the wind can make the fire hazard go from mild, to moderate, to potentially extreme in a short period of time.

“Conditions are okay in the county, we’re still issuing burning permits. That’s one thing I need to commend, people who are burning are showing caution,” says Kotowich.

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