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Sunday , 27 September 2020

Cause of large grass fire outside of Kehewin undetermined, said BRFA fire chief

An aerial view after the fire outside of Kehewin on Tuesday. Image credit: BRFA.

A large grass fire outside of Kehewin First Nation took six hours to extinguish with Stations 1 and 5 from the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority and Kehewin Fire Department on Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is undetermined thus far, said BRFA fire chief Jay Melvin during a press conference on Wednesday, and Kehewin will investigate.

Melvin said the fire began shortly after noon hour and with the windy, dry conditions was a challenge to extinguish.

It was one of the first instances the BRFA has had to respond to a large fire during the COVID-19 pandemic while being mindful of public health orders like physical distancing.

“It was definitely a challenge and something that we have not experienced before dealing with a large grass fire supporting Kehewin Fire Department,” said Melvin.

“Based on how large, I believe by just looking at the aerial photos, it might have been two or three quarter-sections, it might have been a section of land.

“It was very challenging with the winds. It’s very dry out there. It only took less than 30 minutes to burn up that whole field and that’s how fast it was moving. It was moving much faster than we could stop it.

“The only thing that prevented it from getting larger was the intersecting roads acted as a fire break for us, so we were able to get a hold of it. It took about six hours before we were back in service,” he said.

As of Tuesday, there is a partial fire ban in place in the M.D. of Bonnyville, Village of Glendon and the Summer Villages of Bonnyville Beach and Pelican Narrows.

It does not apply to the City of Cold Lake or Town of Bonnyville.

Prohibited:

  • All open fires including, but not limited to, backcountry and random camping areas;
  • Burn barrels.
  • Charcoal briquettes, turkey fryers and tiki torches.
  • Fireworks
  • Exploding targets.

Allowed:

  • Campfires in municipal campgrounds within designated fire rings with screens (Applies only to those outside the FPA)
  • Residential backyard fire pits within designated fire rings
  • Portable propane fire pits that are CSA approved or UL certified.
  • Gas or propane stoves and barbecues that are CSA approved or UL certified and are designed for cooking or heating.
  • Catalytic or infrared-style heaters.
  • Fires contained in industrial facilities or on industrial sites as approved by a forest officer.

For further information, please contact the Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority at 780-826-4755.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.