Burn under control

Two fires are under control in the West Country after snowfall and rain lessened their might on the weekend.

Two fires are under control in the West Country after snowfall and rain lessened their might on the weekend.

The burning of forested areas, deliberately set by parks officers, are being managed thanks to cooler weather.

One prescribed burn of just over 4,100 acres temporarily got out of hand near Parks Canada’s Ya Ha Tinda Ranch, a federally run working horse ranch 85 km west of Sundre. An additional 450 acres was burned.

Parks Canada fire information officer Ray Schmidt said strong winds threw the burn beyond the perimeter.

“Crews immediately implemented an escaped fire plan and facility protection measures for the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch buildings,” said Schmidt.

Those measures were successful. A total of nine mm of rain and snow fell in the area last weekend.

Although the fire moved beyond the designated perimeter for this season, it had consumed areas scheduled for burns in the future, Schmidt said.

“We’ll be doing infrared scanning to look for hotspots and go in to extinguish them,” Schmidt said.

An area closure has been expanded to include all Ya Ha Tinda Ranch lands west of Bighorn Creek and surrounding provincial lands. The public is asked to obey all posted signs.

The closure of trails will be maintained until they are safe to reopen.

The Ya Ha Tinda burn’s aim is to restore some grasslands since the area is an important elk habitat, Schmidt said.

The Upper Saskatchewan prescribed fire is also under control after a small portion outside the boundaries burned. That fire is located just outside Banff park boundaries and is less than 2.47 acres in size.

Rob Harris, wildfire information officer for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said the hazard levels are now low compared with last week’s high to extreme hazard levels for Central and Southern Alberta.

“If we get a few days of dry, we could see the hazard levels climb once again,” Harris said.

Harris said the province has had 655 fires this year, slightly below the more than 700 of 2008.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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