By Justin Seward
Cypress County’s fire chief warns residents to use extreme caution when doing work outside as conditions have become drier over the last few weeks.
Kelly Meyer reminds people not to discard cigarettes out their windows, to make sure trailer chains are not dragging on the ground and for farmers and ranchers to have fire extinguishers on hand.
“It’s dry out there,” said Meyer.
“(In) looking at the information from the Alberta Forestry and Agricultural website, the southeast region, pushing up to the north, we’re in the high to an extreme for fine fuel moisture content. The fine fuel moisture in the grass is just being absorbed by the heat. The heat itself is just causing things to cure quicker and faster. It’s getting bad.”
Additionally, he is encouraging people not drive in tall grasses if they don’t have to and be cautious if they do so.
“The grass is tall, it’s curing and the chances of being able to ignite, all the signs are there. It just needs that little heat source to get it going,” said Meyer.
It was one year ago last week that the county called a local state of emergency as result of the Graburn Road fire and Meyer says conditions could turn that way again.
“It’s looking like we could have another incident if people aren’t careful,” said Meyer.
“The Graburn incident was caused by lightning. So that was a dry lightning strike. It was so dry, (it) worked its way into that roots system and just slowly smoldered until it could get a little oxygen and up they pop.”
The call volume in the last little while has been “very calm,” he said.
County firefighters were pressed into action a couple of weeks ago to help the County of Forty Mile with a 17-acre grass fire
There was also a grass fire on Highway 3 where CFB Suffield and Box Springs members and the Dunmore fire tender were dispatched to the call.
“There were multiple spot fires down the meridian. (The) cause of the fire is unknown and undetermined at this time,” said Meyer.
“They got it out pretty quick and there’s no damage done to crops. Based on a call volume, we’re pretty low this year for wild land fires compared to last year or the previous year.”
He thinks with people taking the proper precautions that attributes to the calls being slower for grass fires this year.
There has been not as much dry lightning compared to previous years as well, he added.