Fire fight ‘going to be a tough one’

Fire ban in effect in Red Deer

Raging flames have demolished at least 16 structures in northern Alberta, and closer to home, Red Deer firefighters are determined to protect the city.

City personnel responded to at least four outdoor fires on Thursday, including a small brush fire in the Pines area. Firefighters received more reports of flames on Friday, but nothing was found.

“Brush fires just don’t start,” said city fire marshal Wes Van Bavel. “Yes, it can be an act of God if it’s lightning. Apart from that, there’s a reason it’s starting.”

Travis Allred, who was among four Red Deer County firefighters who travelled to High Level to fight the flames, calls the challenge “surreal.”

Air quality alerts have blanketed the province as 29 active fires burn in Alberta — 10 that are out of control — and 10,000 people have been evacuated. The smokey air has prompted the cancellation of a number of outdoor sporting events, including Friday’s city high school rugby championship.

The City of Red Deer and Red Deer County have imposed fire bans.

“This fight is going to be a tough one,” said Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

“The weather is not co-operating for the long-distance forecast for the next two weeks. It’s more of the same, of hot, dry and windy conditions.”

Whether they are caused by improper disposal of cigarette butts, children playing with lighters or matches, or people building a fire where they shouldn’t — fires don’t need to happen, Van Bavel said.

“We’re constantly dealing with grass fires. But thankfully, nothing has gotten out of control, where we’ve had to evacuate areas or lose large portions of our urban forest areas.”

He said the parks department does a good job trying to mitigate some of the potential fire risk in the city’s urban forests.

“But I’m sure everybody in Red Deer can appreciate the vastness of our system. We do our best, but we do need the help from the citizens of Red Deer to stop those fires before they happen.”

Related:

City of Red Deer under fire ban

High wildfire risk in Rocky area

Allred, the deputy chief of training with Red Deer County, returned Wednesday from helping to fight the fire near High Level. He said the wildfire was “a little surreal with the amount of smoke and the amount of equipment.”

Allred said the crew helped to protect the mill operated by Norbord Inc., a major employer in the area.

“While we were up there, we were tasked with doing nighttime patrols so the fire didn’t cross the highway. They had us in place there to ensure that we could protect the mill if any embers had crossed over in that direction. Luckily, it didn’t,” Allred said.

He said attack crews could be called in if necessary, but the county firefighters were able to handle all the hot spots they encountered.

— With files from The Canadian Press



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Trial: Red Deer RCMP officer accused of asking prisoner to lift up her top

A woman who has accused a Red Deer RCMP officer of urging… Continue reading

Former principals, staff and students celebrate 50 years of Westpark Middle School

In the mid-1970s, Paul Gowans became principal at Westpark Middle School, and… Continue reading

Central Alberta MPs seek stiffer punishment for rural crimes

Bill C-458 was tabled Friday, and proposes to amend the Criminal Code to account for rural residents

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets second green light from Ottawa

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is giving the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

WATCH: New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Sexting teens at risk of harms including depression, substance use: study

Sexting by youth between the ages of 12 and 17 is linked… Continue reading

R.J. Barrett, expected to go third overall, is Canadian headliner at NBA Draft

On the heels of the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA championship for… Continue reading

Canada’s Christine Sinclair mingles with Dutch fans ahead of World Cup showdown

REIMS, France — Wandering around Reims on an off-day, Canada captain Christine… Continue reading

Sharks re-signing Karlsson sets table for busy NHL off-season

Erik Karlsson had no wanderlust to test the free agent market before… Continue reading

Blair says more gun-control action needed, signals no new steps before election

OTTAWA — Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says more must be done… Continue reading

Pricey tours of decaying Titanic shipwreck delayed until June 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists who paid $168,000 each to help… Continue reading

Police searching for suspect after shooting at Toronto Raptors rally

Toronto police are still looking for a suspect after Monday’s shooting that… Continue reading

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Most Read