MELFORT— In what Shaun Stewart, Melfort’s fire chief, is describing as “a very busy weekend,” the Melfort Fire Department responded to four field fires over two days.
The department responded on May 17 at 11:54 a.m. to a grass fire in the RM of Flett’s Springs, at 12:26 p.m. to a grass fire north west of Pathlow, and at 1:56 p.m. to a grass fire on McKee Road.
“We were paged out to others we had to use mutual aid from because we couldn’t leave the ones that we were at,” Stewart said.
“It’s that time of the season when either farmers are burning some of the stubble and it gets away from them, or they have burned some piles and thought they were out. Some are starting from old piles that were lit in February and didn’t show any signs of still active.”
On May 18, at 10:40 a.m. the department responded to fire burning along the railway tracks, three miles east on Highway 3.
Stewart was in attendance for 10 hours on May 17 at the site north west of Pathlow, as teams worked to stop a fire from reaching seeded fields.
“We had a water source for us to be pulled from and we had a tractor trailer unit on the back should we need it as well,” Stewart said.
Stewart estimates that the burning area was about the equivalent of six football fields.
The fire was threatening two yard sites that were along the field. Crews worked to protect the yard sites while trying to stop the forward progress of the fire.
Things took a turn for the worse as the fire worked its way into a small ravine. While there was water inside, which helped press against the fire in certain areas, overall the downwind caused even more challenges.
“With the wind gusting to 65 kilometres an hour in that afternoon, it kind of hampered our ability to get a handle on it right away, but in the long run we were able to stop forward process,” Stewart said.
On the other side of the ravine was a seeded field.
“We were just trying to keep it in the ravine and not in the field.”
At this point, the farmer who owned the field took two cultivator passes to make a fire break so that the fire wouldn’t spread to the seeded area.
“He cultivated some of his seed under, basically two passes with his cultivator, but the rest of his field we were able to look after.”
The fire was ultimately put out as crews pushed it back into a water basin.
“A natural barrier was there and it wasn’t able to burn past it, so we were able to jump on it and get a good handle on it then,” Stewart said.
“The winds also started to die down later as evening came on, so that helped us get a better handle on it as well.”
Crews contained the fire, extinguished all hot spots and then returned to base.
There were no injuries reported.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time.