Fire ban in Wallace-Woodworth after rash of fires

Thursday afternoon's fire started by sparks from hydro lines

After three homes were threatened and firefighters fought their third fire in 24 hours, the RM of Wallace-Woodworth issued a Level 2 fire ban, this morning, Friday April 26.

There’s a hefty cost if you do start a fire when a ban is in place – it’s $1,000, plus the costs incurred by the Municipality to have the fire department fight the fire.

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“Due to the warmer weather, dryer conditions … we would like to remind residents to use precaution when enjoying a fire outside,” says Fire Chief Brad Yochim of Wallace District Fire Department.

Chief Yochim called other fire stations to come alongside the Virden station in the firefight in two different locations. Thursday’s grass fire, driven by high winds, raged through tall dead grass in a farm yard located just a couple kms from Virden.

The back-to-back fires began with a first call coming in at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, to a bush fire five miles (8 kms.) east of Virden on the north side of the TransCanada Highway. Chief Yochim describes the events:

“A controlled burn got out of control and burnt through some bush and grassland for a half mile. The fire threatened three homes and many out-buildings. We managed to save all the structures with help from Oak Lake Fire and Woodworth Fire departments. There were 41 firefighters on scene with nine trucks and our ATV. That fire was under control at 7:30 pm but not fully extinguished.

“We got called back to the same location at 7:30 a.m., Thursday morning, to put out some hot spots and a pile of bales still burning.

“While we were there, we were paged out to the fire south of town near the cemetery. It was caused by hydro wires arching against each other in the strong wind.”

With the help of the Elkhorn station, the fire was brought under control within an hour by 20 firefighters, seven trucks and the firefighting ATV.

Yochim says the “fires were difficult ones to fight due to the strong winds and rough terrain. Lots of steps put in by firefighters in the bush.”

RM fire ban

The RM has initiated a level 2 burn ban effective Friday morning, which means no open fires allowed but approved fire pits are allowed. Farmers may not burn crop debris; residents may not burn yard waste.

In Wallace-Woodworth people can barbecue their food and enjoy sitting around a fire in an approved fire pit. (SEE BY-LAW #6-2016 FOR FURTHER EXPLANATION)

Conditions considered extreme

The Town of Virden has also made a statement on Facebook, warning people to be careful when using a fire pit: The conditions are considered extreme right now. Open fires are banned in the Town of Virden year round.

All outdoor fire pits in the Town of Virden are to be:

• located three (3) feet from any structure or anything combustible and

• well screened to help prevent flyaway debris

Open burning and burning in barrels is not allowed within the Town of Virden.

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