Wind and dry temperatures cause problems for fire crews battling central Alberta grass fire

A shed on a rural property near Millet, Alta. burns Sunday evening during a grass fire. Courtesy Justin Gessner

Four fire departments in central Alberta were called to a major grass fire near Millet, Alta. Sunday afternoon.  Crews from Millet, Wetaskiwin, Leduc and Mulhurst Bay fought the fire on multiple fronts.

The blaze started just before 5 p.m. near Highway 616 and Diamond Drive in what appears to be a new subdivision in the community. It jumped Highway 616 just west of Millet.

“It got into some trees and that’s where our crews have been putting out hot spots for the last two and a half hours,” Millet Fire Captain, Trevor Palmer, said Sunday night.

“One structure was lost,” Palmer said adding it was a shop that was being used for storage. “The structure contained a number of vehicles. I think it’s at least a dozen vehicles that have been lost.”

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Palmer said it was the quick work of crews that stopped the fire from threatening homes.

“If it had jumped what we call Powerline Road here in town, there was a risk it could have gotten into the Moonen Heights subdivision,” he said. “Our crews actually got in front of the fire very well and saved, for sure, one house right on the west side of town.”

READ MORE: Edmonton firefighters continue to monitor stubborn grass fire in Windermere

The Millet Fire Department information officer said he had no idea what had started the fire but they were able to get it under control quickly because of the quick work of crews on the scene.

“Our mutual aid partners from Wetaskiwin got to the head of the fire and contained it once it made it across the highway,” he said.

“They’re literally one phone call away and they were here very quickly,” Palmer said of the three other fire departments who helped battle the blaze.

There was one roadblock, literally,  that fire crews did not expect when battling the fire.  Residents in the area were told to stay away from Tower Road, Highway 616, and any area west of the Agriplex, after fire crews said they were blocked out of areas by onlookers.

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“We had a hard time getting our trucks to the various different directions that this fire was advancing because vehicles were blocking the roads,” Palmer said. “We understand it’s human nature to be curious, but we had a lot of frustration with that today.”

“We’d really like to remind the general public that we are here to do a job and the safest place for them is as far away from what we are doing as possible,” he said.

Palmer said fire crews would monitor the area overnight Sunday to ensure the fire didn’t re-ignite.

A stubborn grass fire burns near Millet, AB. Credit: Justin Gessner
A stubborn grass fire burns near Millet, AB. Credit Justin Gessner
A stubborn grass fire burns near Millet, AB. Credit Justin Gessner

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