• Lorna Hamilton

County Of Vermilion River Had Multiple FiresIn First Week Of Spring

Kirk Hughes, Director of Protective Services for the County of Vermilion reported that the first weekend of spring was a busy one for the County of Vermilion Firefighters.

On March 19 at approximately 3:54 p.m. multiple alarm assignments were sent to Paradise Valley, Blackfoot, Kitscoty as well as mutual aid from Legacy Rural for a large commercial structure fire just north of Rivercourse. A storage facility with numerous farm implements, tractors, motor vehicles and tools was found on fire by the responding crews.

“Crews worked to contain the spread and extinguish the fire, which lasted several hours. Fire crews from Marwayne, Islay and Vermilion covered the district in case of additional calls. The fire is not suspicious,” commented Hughes.

Additionally, on March 21 at approximately 2:32 a.m. another structure fire in the Blackfoot area was attended by a County Engine, Tender Rescue, Command and County Truck, alongside RCMP, AHS and Utilities. The fire was contained to the garage and not deemed suspicious.

“Working smoke alarms certainly saved property and likely lives this weekend”, said County Fire Chief Kirk Hughes. “Crews responded quickly which made an impact on the spread of both fires”.

The County of Vermilion River reminds residents to check their smoke alarms and fire smart their properties from wildfires.

With spring here the risk of wildfires and grass fires increase due to the dryer conditions and Hughes comments that the County of Vermilion River is at an increased risk because our villages and homes border on large agricultural and forested lands.

“This is what makes these regions so attractive to most, our accessibility to the outdoors,” said Hughes. He went on to say that historically, we’ve seen large grassfires over the last few years, but certainly nothing that would jeopardize the communities.

“Major forest fires, like Ft. McMurray to our north, are not the kind of fires we’d expect to see in the County. However, with low precipitation levels received over the winter, we must all be prepared to react to any grassland fire,” explained Huges.

According to Hughes, Protective Services has completed a Fire Risk Assessment for the County of Vermilion River and with the lower amounts of precipitation coupled with a hotter than average summer expected it will put the County at an elevated risk for wildfires.

“The good news is that the CVR Fire Service is working diligently to prepare for any eventualities and contingencies we might encounter. Fire apparatus, equipment, tools and gear have already been ordered and our departments have already prepped for the season,” said Hughes.

There are currently no fire bans in the County, but there are some close to the County.

Wildfires can be caused by a variety of reasons such as natural, but unfortunately according to Hughes many types of fires are usually human caused either by accident or by negligence.

“Often, it’s sometimes something as innocent as a campfire or a hot piece of metal from a running engine to a discarded cigarette or an intentional start. It is important to recognize these sources,” Hughes explained.

Hughes says that being fire smart is one of the best ways to prevent fires or reduce the risk. These include maintaining your yard, removing debris and flammable materials from near your home, pruning branches to eliminate dead trees and to keep gutters free of leaves. Other ways are to store flammable liquids such as propane and gasoline away from your house and to keep firewood piles at least 10 to 30 meters away from the siding.

“If you are burning, get a burn permit.Small fires can grow at rapid rates, and we’d never want anyone to be needlessly put in harm’s way,” said Hughes. He went on to say that the public can play a critical role by being Fire Smart and calling 9-1-1 when they see unusual smoke or flames and taking the time to extinguish all fires.

Hughes also mentioned that the County Fire departments are always needing volunteer firefighters and encourages residents to watch albertafirebans.ca or download the APP to their phones to stay up-to-date.

”Our website is a good resource, however the websites above and the APP are very useful. Residents can sign up on our Voyent Alert System and receive notifications and check our Facebook

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