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Wildfire season is definitely upon us

Barrhead Regional Fire Services responds to five grass fires in a span of a few hours on April 13
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Barrhead Regional Fire Services firefighters hose down the remains of a small home made trailer that was still smouldering from a grassfire on an acreage in the Dunstable area just south of Highway 651. Les Dunford/BL

BARRHEAD- It was a busy few hours for Barrhead Regional Fire Services (BRFS) firefighters last Wednesday. 

Starting at about 2:30 p.m. on April 13, Barrhead firefighters responded to the first of what would end up being five wildfires in just over four hours. 

"It seemed like it was never-ending. We would go to one, and while we were still there, there would be a call that there was another grassfire," BRFS fire chief Gary Hove said. 

The first of the series of grass fires on a property off of Highway 18 near Freedom started in a yard and then spread to the surrounding grasslands. The next call came only a few minutes later at 2:36 p.m. in the Dunstable area on an acreage just south of Highway 651 and west of Range Road 24. 

Again Hove noted that the fire started in the yard and then spread to surrounding grasslands.  

The fire department received the call for the third grassfire north of Neerlandia on Range Road 65 shortly after 3 p.m.  

"The fire was in a field," he said, adding the fire was reported by the Vega lookout tower. "They were burning windrows in December and January, and over the last few days, with the wind, it rekindled it a bit and caught their field on fire." 

However, he said by the time crews arrived the landowner had it well under control. 

The next fire BRFS crews responded to was past Camp Creek, near Range Road 43 and Township Road 615. Fire crews ended their day responding to a ditch fire (believed to have been started by a discarded cigarette) shortly after 7 p.m. on Highway 654.  

Hove said because they were spread so thin, they called upon Westlock County Fire Services and the Fort Assiniboine Fire Department for extra crew and water tanker support.  

Westlock County provided support for the fire off of Highway 651 while Fort Assiniboine assisted at the fire off of Range Road 65. 

All totaled, not including the members from the Westlock County and Fort Assiniboine crews, about 15 BRFS firefighters were involved in the efforts. 

"Luckily, we were able to get all the fires under control pretty quick," Hove said. "Once it hits the bush line, it slowed down because there was still some snow and other dampeners. Conditions are starting to get ripe for fire. We were lucky that lately, we've had some colder temperatures. Had temperatures been warmer these fires could have been more extreme." 

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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