Fire risk high, warns fire department

By Geoff Lee

March 21, 2017 12:00 AM

Where there is smoke, there’s fire and that could mean parts of the Lloydminster region covered by the Britannia Fire Department this spring.
The department is already on alert for grassfires following the March forecast of below normal water runoff potential for our area issued by Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency March 9.
“I know it’s March and it seems a little bit maybe early to preach caution, but as we get closer to April and into May, if we don’t get some serious snow or a good night’s wet spring, the potential is there for a busy season,” said Aaron Buckingham, Britannia’s deputy fire chief.
Buckingham said there’s been no grass fires as of March 9, or any calls related to the dryness of the ground, but he cautioned the potential is there.
“Southeastern Saskatchewan and Eastern Saskatchewan on the whole is looking to be a little bit higher average in runoff, but that, of course, is not the case here,” he said.
“With the amount of crop and everything left on the fields there’s going to be added industry demands this spring,” he said, referring to combining.
The cover of the March 7 edition of the Source featured a photo of a Waseca area farmer combining soft wheat in a field with little snow cover on it.
“We haven’t had this much crop left out in the spring for quite some time here and even when we did, in the past, there was a lot more snow pack in the winter before,” said Buckingham.
“It could be very interesting.”
Once grassfires do get started, high winds the area is known for can spread the flames quickly.
Buckingham noted the weather can and does change quickly and could bring lots of snow and rain in the coming weeks.
If it stays dry, Buckingham urges anyone working outdoors to make sure they have a well maintained fire extinguisher on hand.
“The biggest thing is maintenance—farmers carry extinguishers on their combines, but often times they just sit,” said Buckingham.
“What happens is the material inside can settle to the bottom and harden and then you go use it and nothing comes out of the hose.”
Buckingham advises people to turn their extinguisher upside down, and shake it, making sure it’s actually going to work.
“Make sure you can hear and feel the movement inside the extinguisher,” he said.

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