Controlled burns planned for Suffield

Planned grass fires will occur Oct. 3-17 on Canadian Forces Base Suffield, north of Medicine Hat, in efforts to reduce grassy overgrowth in the northern part of the base.

The Department of National Defence issued a notice Oct. 1 warning area residents about controlled burn plans in case they observe the smoke and see emergency vehicles in the area.

The fires will occur “intermittently as weather conditions permit,” the department said.

There is currently a fire ban in Cypress County, where the base is located, due to dry conditions. The ban prohibits any use of incinerators, burning barrels, solid fuel barbecues and recreational campfires.

Fire bans are also in effect for all Special Areas adjacent to the base, which applies to all outdoor fires. However, area fire departments have been informed of the army base’s plans.

“CFB Suffield thanks Special Areas Fire Services for their participation in this operation, which enables us to confirm radio communication protocols and joint fire fighting procedures,” the department said in its notice.

“Fire suppression assets will be on scene and a number of mitigation measures will be in place throughout the duration of the operation. The decision to conduct or postpone any prescribed fire will be based on weather-related conditions.”

Area residents are likely to be particularly sensitive to fires on the base because a fire spread from CFB Suffield in September 2017 and burned about 90,000 acres of grassland, killed 160 cattle and forced some residents in its path to flee their homes.

The source of that fire was not a controlled burn, however, but was started when soldiers destroyed a previously unexploded artillery shell. The resulting fire got out of control, burning part of the base and extending into adjacent private property.

Anyone with concerns about the fires is advised to contact CFB Suffield Range Control at 403-544-4310. Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the base,

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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