Fire Department goes off road to battle grassfire

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A grassfire raged through approximately two acres of land in southwest Airdrie April 19, but did not destroy any buildings or cause any injuries.

“There were no injuries to report, thankfully, and after approximately three hours of work, 11 firefighters and five pieces of apparatus declared the fire under control and extinguished,” said Deputy Fire Chief Garth Rabel.

“At approximately 8:19 in the evening, the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) responded to a report of an outdoor fire in a wooded grassy area west of Chinook Winds Drive and just south of Yankee Valley Boulevard. When they arrived they found a large stand of trees, brush and surrounded grassland fully involved in flame.”

According to Rabel, dry and windy conditions were helping to fuel the fire. Access to the area was difficult, so AFD brought out bush buggies and a water tender to provide a water source and fight the fire.

“The bush buggies allow us to go off road and into grassland and provide a fire attack,” he said. “We were supported by a large water tender apparatus, which carries a large amount of water to a remote scene. We then simply fill our small bush trucks off that.”

This particular grassfire took place nine days after the City of Airdrie had declared a fire advisory.

“At this time, the municipality is under a fire advisory. We’d like to remind all residents of that,” Rabel said. “That represents a moderate fire risk, but at the same time there’s hazards out there. We need people to be responsible and extremely cautious.”

Under a fire advisory, all previously granted burning permits are cancelled. The use of household fireplaces, charcoal and liquid-fuel barbecues, fires in a burn pit 24 inches in diameter or less and chimeneas is still allowed under the fire advisory.

According to Rabel, the unseasonable hot and dry spring is creating a “perfect storm” for more grassfires to occur.

“A lot of these fires are not started naturally. This is carelessness on behalf of folks in the area. These can be extremely dangerous – to our firefighters, specifically, when they have to respond,” he said.

“Let’s not put our people at risk unnecessarily. We’re ready to do our job – we’re professional and we can manage it – but at the same time, don’t put your community and your fire service at risk.”

The cause of the grassfire remains under investigation.

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