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Hot, dry conditions prompt Alberta fire bans; blaze burns on grazing land

A large portion of southeastern Alberta is under a fire ban due to hot, dry conditions.

MEDICINE HAT — A large portion of southeastern Alberta is under a fire ban due to hot, dry conditions.

Cypress County, which covers the entire corner of the province around Medicine Hat, says the ban is effective immediately.

Bans are also in place for the town of Cardston and Cardston County, the Crowsnest Pass and the Municipal District of Foothills.

A partial ban covers Vulcan County, while the Calgary Wildfire Management Area is under a fire restriction.

Several southern areas remain under fire advisories, as does the entire northwest corner of the province.

The conditions stoked a large wild fire through the Sage Creek grazing pasture in the southeast earlier this week.

Dozens of area residents pitched in to fight the blaze, along with water bombers and fire crews.

Tannis Piotrowski of Manyberries, Alta., said the fire appeared doused by Tuesday evening but sparked up again early Wednesday morning.

She said it burned through an eight-kilometre swath of land and sent dozens of cattle running.

“It was out of control,” said Piotrowski, who added that the terrain prevented access to the fire from the ground.

“Usually they can be contained — you can get at it to fight it — but this one, it was just moving too fast.”

Area rancher Graham Heidinger said area residents usually manage to get most grass fires under control before volunteer firefighters arrive to knock down the bigger flames.

But not this time.

“With the heat conditions, and being so dry and a little bit of wind, this was out of proportion,” he said.

“This is the biggest one I’ve come across.”

The fire was eventually quelled, although crews spent most of Wednesday putting out hot spots.