April 15, 2016 7:13 pm
Updated: April 19, 2016 11:55 am

‘I could feel the heat impinging on my shoulders’: St. Albert firefighter jumps into river to escape flames of grass fire

WATCH ABOVE: Following an unseasonably warm winter, Alberta is experiencing dangerously dry conditions this April and most of the province is currently under either a fire ban, fire restriction or fire advisory.

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A firefighter in St. Albert was forced to jump into the Sturgeon River Thursday afternoon to escape the flames of a massive grass fire.

Fire crews were called out to fight two brush fires north of Edmonton Thursday afternoon.

One of the fires was in the area of Ray Gibbon Drive near Big Lake. The flames became so dangerous at one point crews were forced to pull back from the fire. That’s when Vincent Pashko of St. Albert Fire Services was forced into the water.

Watch below: A lack of moisture through the winter has led to extremely dry conditions in the Capital Region. One St. Albert firefighter had a close call while battling a grass fire in Sturgeon County Thursday. Shallima Maharaj reports.


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“I turned around and I just seen a big wall of ash coming towards me. I turned away from it and I knew that the lake was south of me so as it hit me I could feel the heat impinging on my shoulders and the back of my neck and ears so I just kind of ran to the lake, dunked myself in and cooled myself off,” Pashko said Friday.

“Everything worked out okay. But one of the big things with these types of fires is you never know what to expect.”

Pashko suffered minor burns when the wind suddenly changed and caused a fire tornado to form. He was taken to hospital for treatment and released.

Watch below: Raw video of a grass fire in Sturgeon County from the Global 1 news helicopter

One of the fire hoses used to battle the blaze was also consumed by flames.

The other fire threatened power lines in the Aikensdale neighbourhood. No homes or buildings were damaged in the fire.

Both fires were doused by about 6 p.m. Thursday.

Watch below: Fire tornado forms as crews battle grass fire in St. Albert Thursday. 

It’s been an extremely dry month in the Capital Region. With half of the month behind us, Edmonton is sitting at less than 10 per cent of the average precipitation for the month, according to Global Edmonton meteorologist Jesse Beyer.

A Global News viewer sent in a picture of three moose swimming to safety from a grass fire Thursday.

Three moose swim away from a grass fire in Sturgeon County Thursday, April 14, 2016.

Courtesy, Robert Thorne

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Thursday, April 14, 2016. It was updated at 5:13 p.m. MT Friday to include comments from the firefighter. 

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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