The rains earlier this year were plentiful and welcome, but it does not take many days of July sun and heat for the ground to dry and make conditions ideal for a fire.
On Saturday, all it took was a piece of farm equipment going over a rock to spark a small grass fire on the east side of Seven Persons. Luckily, members of the volunteer fire department were only minutes away and were able to extinguish the flames before much damage was caused.
Such situations are not always the case. Had there been a wind blowing, the flames would have spread more quickly and made the job for the fire crew more cumbersome.
While the grass is still looking fairly green with a quick glance, it is easy to see just how dry things are getting by taking a closer look.
Combines sparking fires by hitting rocks are pretty commonplace, but can result in expensive losses for the farmer.
A fire fuel moisture content (FFMC) map was released by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development on July 11 that showed pretty much all of southern Alberta in the red or Very High range, a clear indication that precautions need to be taken to reduce the fire risk.
Farmers have no choice but to get out there with their equipment to get their work done, but individuals need to be cautious as well. Something as simple as a piece of glass in the ditch can be enough to set the ditch and adjacent field afire when conditions are hot and dry. Never mind the careless disposal of lit cigarettes out the car window. That message should be firmly planted in everybody’s noodles by now.
Now that summer is here, campers will also be checking for fire bans and if there is one in place, following the rules for permitted cooking devices.
The same goes for those obtaining fire permits for controlled burns on their properties. If it is windy, the fire permit is rendered useless and the person with the permit won’t be starting any fires, regardless of how in control of the situation he thinks he may be.
Let’s all have a fun, safe summer and let’s let our volunteer firefighters have one that is incident-free…at least incident-fee from fires caused by human error.