By Jamie Rieger
This past weekend, Medicine Hat firefighters responded to a grassfire that had taken off at Strathcona Park. With tinder-dry conditions and a bit of wind, that beautiful park could have been reduced to ashes in no time.
I haven’t heard how the blaze started, but it is a reminder to all of us that when the grass is dry, and especially when visiting places where there may be a lot of underbrush and years of fallen branches, extra precautions need to be taken to avoid starting a fire. Even a single ember burning from the camp stove at a family’s hot dog roast would be enough to set things off. So, could not ensuring the fire is extinguished when the family picnic is over.
It takes just one careless act to cause a whole lot of headache for many people, starting with the firefighters who risk their own safety when fighting fires. If facilities as beautiful as Strathcona Park were completely taken out by fire, it would also mean a lot of heartache for people who enjoy it for walks with the family, cycling, and family outings.
Last week, Cypress County put in place fire advisories, alerting the public to the dry, often windy conditions that have been experienced in southeast Alberta recently. They too, had to battle a grassfire recently; one that could have very easily caused much more damage than it did. Volunteer firefighters did what they do best and ensured the damage caused would be minimal.
For some, it may seem odd that this region would be so dry and fire advisories put in place already. That usually happens in August, right? Not so. As soon as the west wind blows away the snow and before the grass greens up, things are actually pretty dry out there.
It is up to all of us to take responsibility when we are visiting area recreational places, and even when we decide to spark up the fire pit for the first time of the season. If it’s windy, don’t do it and if you do spend an evening sitting around a warm fire, make sure you sufficiently extinguish it before retiring for the night.
Let’s keep our parks healthy for everybody to enjoy!