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November 19, 2017 November 19, 2017

Cypress County working on services for Hilda fire victims

Posted on November 7, 2017 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward

Commentator/Courier

There were 93 deceased cattle picked up over two days, a week after the devastating fire that ravaged much of the area between Hilda and Burstall, SK on Oct. 17.
Cypress County had organized for the Lethbridge-based West Coast Reductions, who provided rendering services for cattle pick-disposal.
“I think it’s definitely an event that would be hard to compare another event to,” said Cypress County agricultural supervisor Jason Storch.
“ We definitely batted around the different options for dealing with them and tried to weigh out the different options, pluses and minuses, and we arrived at this one.”
Storch said the fire was a definite blow to the agriculture community because farmers and grain producers take great pride in their cattle or crop productions and with the aftermath are in the evaluation process with how resources can help those affected.
“Certainly having mechanisms in place to assist the affected producers and to make sure we have the appropriate contacts for the different levels of government and to be able to access information when it comes time to respond and recovery ,” said Storch.
“It’s really all hands on deck and everybody tries their best to pull together and just keep moving forward.”
Cypress County reeve Richard Oster gave his take on the fire.
“It was terrible,” said Oster.
“It makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about it. It was so bad and we couldn’t do anything about it.”
Additonally, a soil expert is being brought in to see if there is any recovery in that way, while there has been two public meetings scheduled for Hilda residence over the last two weeks with one already being held on Nov. 1.
“Our indications are in a fire situation like this it may take as long as three years before its advisable to run cows on that land again,” said Storch.
“ A farmer leaves stubble standing in their fields to prevent soil erosion. The fire burnt that stubble so that soil is in danger of blowing, and when the wind picks up it does. We are trying to determine what the long term loss of that soil would be (by bringing in this soil expert), and what we can do to mitigate the soil erosion. That’s something we are trying to assist producers in the area getting answers for.”

-Files from Tim Kalinowski with the Medicine Hat News.

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