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Homes evacuated in Prelate, Sask. after grain elevator fire

More than 100 people from Prelate, Sask. were evacuated on Jan. 31. after a grain elevator fire in the town. Courtesy of Jason Gizen

The village of Prelate, Sask. was evacuated early Tuesday morning after a fire destroyed a grain elevator.

Volunteer firefighter Jason Gizen said the 911 call for the fire came in at around 5:48 a.m. Gizen was able to see the entire grain elevator engulfed in flames from his house, which was one of the closest homes to the grain elevator.

“I looked out the window and saw it was totally in flames,” Gizen said.

“I ran out there. A lot of the volunteer firefighters were there already. They got there really quick because a lot of them were getting up to haul grain.”

The fire was close to parked tanker railcars, so the firefighters and some other volunteers went door-to-door in the town of more than 100 people and told residents to leave until the railcars were removed a few hours later.

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Gizen said there was nothing that could be done to save the building, but the firefighters did monitor the embers which were landing about 300 to 400 metres away throughout the town.

“We just kind of watched it,” Gizen said.

According to Gizen, no other buildings were damaged, including his seed processing plant, located about 150 metres from the grain elevator.

“The wind was blowing the fire away from the town and the other businesses,” Gizen said.

“It was a lucky thing. The wind was in our favour. The wind was out of the northwest and the town is northeast of the grain elevator. It was kind of blowing in the direction where there was nothing but open fields and grass and the tanker cars.

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The view of the grain elevator fire in Prelate, Sask. as seen from volunteer firefighter Jason Gizen's yard. Courtesy of Jason Gizen
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The view of the grain elevator fire in Prelate, Sask. as seen from volunteer firefighter Jason Gizen's seed plant. Courtesy of Jason Gizen
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The view of the grain elevator fire in Prelate, Sask. as seen from volunteer firefighter Jason Gizen's yard. Courtesy of Jason Gizen

The cause of the fire, which was still burning Tuesday afternoon, is still under investigation. Gizen said there was a small grass fire around it, but the snow and moisture is helping to contain the blaze.

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The grain elevator was still in use for organic grain storage.

“I was kind of shocked and kind of sad,” Gizen said.

“It’s the last elevator in our town and there’s not many left in Saskatchewan. A lot of good memories, growing up and hauling grain into the elevator. A lot of people here are pretty shaken up and sad. A couple of jobs lost now in our town.”

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