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Red Deer Emergency Services urges caution as fire ban continues

A Red Deer Emergency Services representative is urging residents to be cautious as fire bans continue around Central Alberta.
Red Deer Emergency Services is discouraging residents from having backyard fires during an early spring dry spell. (Advocate file photo)

A Red Deer Emergency Services representative is urging residents to be cautious as fire bans continue around Central Alberta.

Firefighters responded to an outdoor blaze underneath the Gaetz Avenue bridge at about 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

“The crews were there for a little bit. I know they were putting different hot spots out. The wind spread it from spot to spot or flared up little areas that weren’t completely out,” said Curtis Schaefer, RDES assistant deputy chief.

Outdoor fires like this amid dry conditions can be “quite concerning,” Schaefer noted.

“Depending on the location and if it’s tougher access for our crews, they can grow quite quickly,” he said.

The City of Red Deer issued a city-wide fire ban on Monday due to dry conditions and high temperatures. (A fire ban is initiated when conditions as per the Alberta Climate Information Services become extreme.)

“With the conditions right now, we have very low moisture content. The grass, the trees and the brush are all very dry coming out of winter, which is typical for the spring. But we haven’t had any rain to speak of so far and that’s not helping the dryness and low moisture content of the fuels,” Schaefer said.

“Fires spread quickly. We’ve had warm winds in the last week or so and that’s contributing as well to having fires grow quickly, which makes it challenging for crews to go out and fight those fires.”

Schaefer asked Red Deerians to avoid having fires in their backyards until the fire ban is lifted.

“It has to be quite a bit of moisture to bring us out of this fire ban,” he explained.

“We’re heading towards the May long weekend and I’m sure people are thinking about (having fires in their backyards). I like a fire pit as much as anybody and enjoy spending time outside in the summertime, but fire safety is first and foremost.

“We put the fire bans in place to reduce that risk for everybody. If an ember flies up and hits a patch of grass, in neighbourhoods especially, it doesn’t take much for other things to catch on fire in people’s yards. At that point it’s not just a grass fire.”

Residents who notice someone having a fire during this fire ban are advised to call 911. Any person contravening the fire ban will be subject to a $210 fine and applicable response fees.

The City of Red Deer’s fire ban will remain in effect until conditions change and further notice is given.

Many other Central Alberta communities also currently have fire bans, including Red Deer County, Sylvan Lake, Ponoka, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House and Innisfail.

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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