Kimberley grass fire quickly extinguished

Rate fire spread in short time in these dry conditions is a concern to fire deparment

Kimberley Fire Department members responded quickly to a grass fire on Jim Ogilvie Way on Wednesday evening, and extinguished it quickly, but there is reason for concern, says Assistant Fire Chief Rick Prasad.

The fire was located between the Volksmarch Trail on the ridge across from the old fertilizer plant and the Rails 2 Trails, which is several metres lower.

The fire department arrived to find heavy smoke and ground fire moving quickly due to wind conditions.  12 firefighters with 4 fire apparatus worked to extinguish the fire after it burned approximately to 900 square meters.

“Someone called it in when it was just wisps of smoke,” Prasad said. “But in the ten minutes it took us to get there, it had grown to 900 metres. That’s how fast it was moving.”

Prasad says That’s a surprisingly fast rate of spread and an indication of how dry conditions are.

He expects conditions to remain hazardous.

“We are getting some rain this week but you need prolonged precipitation and cooler temperatures to change conditions.”

Even though the area where the fire started is covered in green grass, Prasad says that can be deceiving.

“There’s a fairly deep layer of flammable duff underneath the green grass — pine needles, dead vegetation. You see green grass, you think no problem, but underneath it’s very dry.”

At this point there is no indication what started the fire, although natural causes have been ruled out. But Prasad hopes it wasn’t someone carelessly tossing a cigarette.

“As we go into summer it is very important that we all demonstrate extreme caution with cigarettes and other potential ignition sources.  Every fire starts small, and with conditions the way they are, a small fire could easily get out of hand in short order.”

If you have any information on what may have caused this fire, please call the Kimberley Fire Department at 250-427-4114.