Barrhead county imposes fire ban
Barrhead imposed a fire ban last Tuesday amid concern over dry and windy conditions.
County councillors agreed to suspend all fire permits, except those for heating and cooking.
The ban was still in effect when the paper went to press on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a provincial fire ban in the forested areas of Alberta was lifted on Friday after rain and lower temperatures reduced the wildfire danger across the province.
Although the provincial ban has been lifted, many municipalities still have bans or prevention notices in effect for their jurisdictions.
The developments virtually coincide with the first anniversary of the Slave Lake wildfire that destroyed nearly 350 residences in the northern Alberta town. The community is still rebuilding.
At last week’s council meeting, Barrhead fire chief John Whittaker said he had spent the weekend dealing with fires.
As he spoke about 300 Alberta firefighters were attempting to contain three out-of-control blazes: a 700-hectare fire near Grassland, north of Edmonton, a 650-hectare fire near Bonnyville, northeast of Edmonton and a 325-hectare fire near Lodgepole, southwest of Edmonton.
Whittaker said the south of the province was not too bad, but it was “dry, dry, dry” in the west and north.
He asked the council to suspend all permits, except those issued for cooking and heating purposes.
Unfortunately, people were going ahead with fires fully aware of the dangers of 80kp/h winds picking up ash and embers, he said.
“People say ‘I know it’s bad, but what the heck?’” he added.
Councillor Bill Lane believed rain was forecast for Thursday and Friday, which would ease the fire threat.
“We have run into this problem before,” he said.
Councillor Darrell Troock said lifting the ban was easy to accomplish.
He believed an immediate ban was “a no-brainer.”
“You can still have a campfire,” he said.
Deputy reeve Doug Drozd questioned what would be the position at Thunder Lake.
County manager Mark Oberg said Thunder Lake had a history of mirroring the council’s actions.
The effect of the fire control order is to: suspend permits issued for burn barrels; cancel permits for fires other than burn barrels; require all outdoor fires presently burning, whether set under the authority of a permit or not, be extinguished; prohibit the lighting of many outdoor fires; and ban discharging of fireworks.
The order does not apply to fires in designated camping areas or in fire pits that are attended and lit for cooking or warming; fire contained in cooking and heating appliances and which are fuelled by fluids or gases; and fires contained in industrial facilities or industrial sites approved by a forest officer.
Even though the provincial ban is no longer in effect, Albertans have been reminded to use caution when camping in forested areas.
Campfires should never be left unattended and should be extinguished by soaking the ashes, stirring them and soaking them again. Ashes should be cool to touch.
Off-highway vehicle users can reduce the risk of wildfires by removing burnable debris from hot spots such as the engine and exhaust on their machines.
All off-highway vehicles in Alberta are required to have a functional muffler and spark arrestor.
Since the start of April, firefighters with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development have responded to more than 330 wildfires, most of which appear to be human-caused and therefore were 100 per cent preventable.
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