Military says grass fire will be reviewed

CFB SUFFIELD — The military says it is investigating whether soldiers who were training sparked a grass fire in southeastern Alberta that torched a ranch, forced an evacuation and burned more than 160 cattle just outside the base.

The fire broke out Monday on Canadian Forces Base Suffield, northwest of Medicine Hat, after troops disposed of an unexploded artillery shell by blowing it up.

Maj. Hugh Atwell, acting commander of the base, said a fire crew was there as a precaution, but the explosion and gusty winds caused flames to spread quickly in the dry grass.

He said there was another fire Tuesday 20 kilometres away on the base that was downwind of the first blaze.

Atwell said it is not clear if the explosion caused the fire outside the base.

“At this time I cannot conclusively say that that fire was the result of the fire that started on base,” Atwell said Wednesday.

“We don’t conclusively know the attribution of all the fire damage. We are not saying that to be evasive. We are saying that because we honestly don’t know, and that needs to be confirmed by actual experts in relation to all of the areas that were fire-damaged Monday and Tuesday.”

On Monday night, flames were reported just north of CFB Suffield . They roared across a community pasture shared by ranchers in the area.

Officials declared a state of emergency as more than 20 fire trucks, 10 water trucks and other heavy equipment battled the flames with the help of volunteers.

Five farms with more than 40 people were evacuated as the flames burned one ranch, destroyed kilometres of fences and burned cattle.

Jordon Christianson, an Alberta official who helps administer the community pasture, said people in the area are sure the grass fire, which was under control Wednesday, originated on the base.

He said people have been shaken up by the fire, including ranchers who had to euthanize 160 cattle that were badly burned.

“It was a pretty tough day — just looking at the devastation and the fallout from the cattle,” he said. “It was hard. It has taken a toll.”

Atwell said at some point the military will review damage claims from people affected by the fire, but investigators need to do their work.

Just Posted

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

Castor murderer denies he’s a killer

Jason Klaus tells courtroom he loved his family who were murdered in December 2013

Advocate poll shows another hospital wanted in Red Deer

Over 50 per cent of voters support second hospital

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month