As Airdrie's fire crews were assisting their counterparts in Rocky View County with a grass fire that had been reported on Sunday afternoon on September 4, in the vicinity of Township Road 272, a call came in about another potential grass fire in Airdrie. That fire was reported in the southern area of Windsong.
"As our team [was] assist[ing] with extinguishing the blaze [in Rocky View County] and as that came to a conclusion, our team responded to the [Windsong call] as a district engine. When they arrived on the scene, they determined that a vehicle was in an area and fully involved in fire and the bush trucks then left the Rocky View call and attended this call in our community," said Garth Rabel, the Deputy Chief Operations at the Airdrie Fire Department.
Deputy Chief Rabel noted that the larger apparatus truck was not able to gain easy access to the area where the car was on fire, and because there was no water supply, the bush buggies supported the engine crew to extinguish the vehicle fire. The initial investigation into the cause of the car fire was being investigated by the fire prevention bureau in conjunction with the RCMP. However, Rabel noted the file has now been turned over to the police, who will continue the investigation.
With regards to the recent grass fires in the area, notedly the Carstairs grass fire last week, Deputy Chief Rabel said that it is indeed unusual for Airdrie's Fire Department to attend those calls. He said that initially, Airdrie fire crews were not attached to the call.
"In my 10 years, we've never deployed anything that far north, [but] my commander contacted me and advised that our bush trucks were requested to go up to assist our partners in Carstairs because they had a large running grass fire that was threatening the south end of their community," he said. "I attached myself to the call and when I arrived, there was lots of fire activity, lots of collaborative fire activity, with many, many different departments and apparatus and pieces of equipment there."
He clarified that there was also a secondary grass fire in Carstairs on Friday in a farmer's field, which Airdrie fire crews also assisted with; and while the weather forecast is showing significantly lower temperatures than just a week ago, Deputy Rabel said until the weather on the ground (so to speak) does produce precipitation, the risk is still very high for fires.
"There are lots of farmers in the field right now doing their great work and that always poses a risk because of hot exhausts and manifolds; [as well as] sparks, lots of things that can threaten to start grass fires. We just want to make sure that people are very cognizant and cautious."
He reminded the public that one should keep smoking materials safely discarded, not dispose of them by throwing them out windows and be aware of what restrictions are in place during fire bans and advisories.
Currently, the city of Airdrie is under a fire restriction, which means that all existing fire permits are suspended and no new fire permits will be issued until conditions improve. Any burning without a valid fire permit, other than a residential backyard firepit, is prohibited. However, both East and West Rocky View County are under a fire ban, which means all burning and fireworks permits are suspended, and burning is banned, with some exceptions.
"As we see in Jasper right now, there's very much [a] high risk to communities in events we get these fires out of control. So, conditions are dry, [the] risk is high, and we just need everyone to be extremely cautious and look out for each other."
Provincewide, there are 47 wildfires that are active, with one reported in the last 24 hours. 50 per cent of the 1,079 wildfires that the province has seen this year are thought to be human-caused. The Jasper wildfire is thought to now encompass approximately 6,000 hectares, though it is thought to have been caused by a lightning strike.
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