Dry conditions plague prairies

LUMSDEN, Sask. — Gusting winds mixed with dry conditions to kick off the prairie fire season ahead of schedule this year.

Fire departments from the towns of Lumsden and Craven, Sask., along with the city of Regina, found themselves fighting grass fires earlier in the season than normal this week, while further north near Delisle crews were also taming blazes.

West of Regina a separate fire claimed a barn, farm machinery and melted siding from a house, while charring nearly 700 acres of valley and pasture.

Regina’s deputy fire chief, David Kinvig, said the city crews were dispatched to Sherwood Forest and Wascana Trails areas to fight that fire well into the night of April 26.

He said conditions are a lot drier than people might imagine.

The Lumsden fire started near the town, but spread into the valleys to the south and from there, pushed by winds, marched into pasture and bush.

Tractors and discs along with farm sprayer tender trucks and trailers were called in to augment municipal graders to create firebreaks and fight the flames in the heavy grass.

Fires also burned at the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn, south of Saskatoon.

Conservation officers at the Lumsden fire said the threat of fire this spring is higher than normal and “much greater than people think after the late spring.”

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