Careless humans blamed for fires in Clearwater County

Firefighters in Clearwater County battled two forest fires on Monday, the second of which engulfed barn structures near a home.

Firefighters in Clearwater County battled two forest fires on Monday, the second of which engulfed barn structures near a home.

That fire started after a resident transferred hot fireplace ashes outside. It occurred at about 1:30 p.m. south of Rocky Mountain House near Hwy 752 and Cow Lake, 94 km west of Red Deer.

The fire did not affect the home on the property but did get out of control and ignited about 10 acres of trees, said Barry Shellian, Rocky Sustainable Resource Development forestry information officer.

“It was fast running,” he said.

Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services, along with fire departments from Rocky Mountain House, Condor, Caroline and Leslieville, had a hand in putting out the two fires.

The first fire, also near Cow Lake, was started by an abandoned campfire, Shellian said.

“So we always encourage people to soak, stir the ashes and soak them again,” he said.

“There is still a lot of snow on the mountains in the distance and grass is just starting to turn green but there is still brown matted grass left over from last year and that is our primary concern.”

Shellian said they are reminding people that it only takes 16 hours of sunlight to make grass prime for burning conditions.

“As of (Monday), we had 13 wildfires in the Clearwater County area that have burned 24 hectares (59 acres) and the bulk of those have been caused by people.

“There are a lot of people coming out this way during May long (weekend) and we are encouraging all West Country users to be more cautious with their campfires.”

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com