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Spring weather creating challenges for Saskatoon emergency crews

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Spring weather creating challenges for Saskatoon emergency crews
WATCH ABOVE: While the warm weather is welcome, it is creating challenges for emergency crews in Saskatoon. – Apr 25, 2018

From a water rescue search on the river to battling brush fires, emergency personnel have had their hands full now that spring has officially sprung.

On Monday, a significant amount of resources were deployed to the South Saskatchewan River just after 11 a.m. CT following reports of a man in distress.

READ MORE: Search for man in South Saskatchewan River ends

“We actually had three boats on the water, we put four divers in the water – two at a time,” Saskatoon Fire Department assistant chief Wayne Rodger said.

By 4 p.m. on Monday, the search was called off and the mission would resume if any new information came in.

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Nonetheless, fire officials said the dangers associated with the river still remain as a person could be swept away in seconds, if the bone-chilling temperatures don’t get to you first.

“The channels changes, depending on how deep the water and how wide the water is affects the flow – it’s just so unpredictable,” Rodger added.

READ MORE: No structures damaged in brush fire south of Saskatoon

Fire halls are also hustling to grass fires with back-to-back blazes battled by crews on Monday and Tuesday.

The first was called in shortly after 6 p.m. just south of Saskatoon on Highway 60. One engine, one water tanker and a brush truck were dispatched with crews concerned about two homes that were potentially in its path.

With the assistance of volunteer firefighters from Merrill Moon Lake, the fire was contained and no structures went up in flames.

Less than 24 hours later, crews tackled another grass fire on Tuesday morning just south of Highway 11. It was completely under control shortly after crews responded to the scene and the cause is undetermined at this time.

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“Any amount of discarded cigarette, an uncontrolled fire – those sorts of things are potential to start something much bigger than intended,” Rodger said.

Environment Canada predicts our spring will be cooler than normal with above average precipitation levels.

Meteorologist Terri Lang Much said it’s needed moisture for many parts of the province.

“Last year has been very, very dry especially in southern Saskatchewan, and we’re still running a deficient with the soil moisture so it really is quite dry in the soil,” Much said.

Leaving crews at the mercy of Mother Nature at least for now with dead vegetation acting as combustible materials that can go up in flames in no time flat.

“Just because we saw the snow on the ground for a long time and I think people equate that to ‘wow we had a lot of snow’ and actually we didn’t,” Lang added.

“We had average snowfalls in and around this area however southern Saskatchewan still really below normal with respect to snow, they’ve gotten snow in the last month so they’re really running a deficient down there.”

Compounding the problem on top of this, according to fire officials, winds that whip through the province adding fuel to any fire.

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