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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Wildfire Season Has Started In Vermilion And Area


Large wildland fire south of Vermilion on April 24. Photo Vermilion Voice

Amidst dry and windy conditions, Alberta finds itself entrenched in the throes of wildfire season once again. As of the latest reports, 21 active fires are currently ablaze in the province, with an additional 32 fires lingering from last year’s burn, bringing the total count to a concerning 53.

While Vermilion has thus far avoided a significant threat from wildfires, recent weeks have witnessed the County of Vermilion Protective Services scrambling to contain wildland fires in the local vicinity.

The Easter weekend proved particularly challenging, as above-average temperatures and fierce gusts of wind-fueled an uptick in wildfire activity within the County.

On Easter Sunday, just after 7 p.m., Vermilion Fire & Rescue sprang into action in response to a field fire west of town. With swift coordination, firefighters managed to quell the blaze, bringing the situation under control by Chief Krys shortly before 9 p.m.

The following day, at 1:17 p.m., Marwayne Fire & Rescue and Blackfoot Fire and Rescue raced to tackle a stubble fire north on Range Road 20. With the assistance of the landowner, crews battled the fire’s flanks and head, eventually containing it and transitioning to mop-up and hot spot operations. Deputy Chief Morgan Wood announced a “stop loss” around 6:30 p.m., though firefighters remained vigilant for flare-ups for several more hours.

Meanwhile, as crews were engaged in combating the aforementioned blaze, another grassfire erupted near Oxville, prompting a rapid response from Paradise Valley Fire Department with tanker support from Kitscoty Fire Department. Deputy Chief Davies confirmed the fire’s containment by 6:00 p.m.

At 5:05 p.m., reports of smoke and flames off Highway #16 near Range Road 71 summoned Vermilion Fire & Rescue Society and the Vermilion RCMP to tackle a rapidly spreading grass fire on the road’s north side. Despite the challenging conditions, firefighters swiftly gained control of the blaze.

Earlier, on April 19, a sparking powerline ignited a small field fire, prompting Vermilion Fire and Rescue to collaborate with local landowners to swiftly contain and extinguish the blaze. Similarly, Kitscoty Fire Department, aided by villagers, swiftly controlled and extinguished a fire at Kitscoty Regional Park, prompting County Fire Chief Kirk Hughes to remind residents of the pervasive dry conditions across the region.

On April 24, a thick pillar of dark grey smoke billowed into the sky which could be seen from Highway 16, prompting a 9-1-1 call and immediate response from Vermilion Fire & Rescue Society at 2:47 p.m. Arriving units were met with a deeply entrenched fire in dense brush, exacerbated by driving winds. Additional support from Clandonald Fire, Kitscoty Fire Department, and County #9-1 was swiftly mobilized. In response to the escalating situation, a Voyent Alert was issued by the CVR Emergency Management Division.

As the fire rapidly spread into steep terrain, a neighbour equipped with a tracked dozer arrived, enabling the creation of a fire break that successfully halted the blaze’s advance. This allowed firefighters to flank the fire and gain access to its main body. Despite the challenging conditions, firefighters tirelessly battled the flames, supported by Paradise Valley Fire Department, which cleared a separate grassfire around 3:30 p.m.

Special recognition was extended to County of Vermilion River Public Works for their deployment of graders, a water tanker, and additional CAT dozers, as well as to EC911 Dispatchers and other County Fire Service stations for their coverage.

Vermilion Fire Chief Krys declared the fire extinguished just before 8 p.m., although crews remained on-site to monitor for any signs of extension.

These events serve as a stark reminder to residents: if you see smoke, do not hesitate to call 911, and ensure any fires are completely extinguished, and do not toss cigarette butts out.

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