Manitoba fire crews on alert due to dry conditions

Dry conditions are considered a factor in two separate fires over the long weekend which threatened properties and homes.

Crews with the South Whiteshell Fire Department and the Manitoba Wildfire Program responded to a fire Monday afternoon after 2 p.m. in Whiteshell Provincial Park, which started along a hiking trail near Falcon Beach Ranch.  

The R.M. of Springfield Fire Department also battled a blaze Monday which fire chief Jeff Hudson said ignited when a lawn tractor overheated.  Crews were able to bring the fire, which threatened four homes along Pineridge Rd., under control before any were damaged.

The Whiteshell fire burned less than a kilometre from the ranch owned by Devin and Kendra Imrie.

“It definitely looked like it was too close for comfort and I know from being out there every day how dry it is right now and with how quickly it could spread,” said Devin.

The Imries said a relative noticed the blaze, phoned 911 and raced into their yard, grabbing fire extinguishers to fight the flames with friends.

“He actually grabbed fire extinguishers from our rental cabins with his buddies,” said Kendra.  “He ran up the trail, the hiking trail, but by the time they got there it was already too big for them.”

“It was billowing up right behind our pasture and it was little black plumes and then big white plumes so it was definitely a big looking fire.”

Fire crews arrived and set up sprinklers along the tree line to stop the flames from spreading to the ranch.

Water bombers deployed by the province attacked the fire from the air, sparing the ranch of any damage.

“The province responded with two initial attack crews and a helicopter as well as three water bombers that assisted on the fire to help bring it under control,” said Manitoba Wildfire Program director David Schafer.

The province says the fire danger in most areas of Manitoba is moderate but dry conditions have increased the risk.

Officials said so far this spring 64 fires in the province are mostly contained or under control, that’s lower than the 100 usually experienced by this time of year.

“All fires this year to the best of my knowledge were human caused, that’s typically what occurs this time of year,” said Schafer

The province is reminding people to make sure campfires aren’t left burning and to obey burn bans implemented by local municipalities.