May 21, 2019 6:12 pm

Extreme fire risk in place across much of southern Saskatchewan

An onlooker walks past a brush fire near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Kayle Neis / The Canadian Press

Much of Saskatchewan is under either an extreme or high fire risk due to recent dry weather, according to the province’s emergency management branch.

There’s a split in the fire risk, with the southern Prairie mostly under the extreme fire risk, while much of the northern boreal forest faces a high risk.

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Saskatchewan’s fire safety commissioner Duane McKay said there is concern for fires, especially with significant burns in the high level, Alberta area. He added the lack of rain over the May long weekend contributed to the elevated fire threat.

READ MORE: High Level wildfire grows to nearly 80,000 hectares

“We know people are out on the land now and being quite active. We see this in agriculture, people wanting to burn off field residue and so on. We’re urging extreme caution in the southern part of the province if you’re using fire for any purpose whatsoever,” McKay said.

McKay added that fire departments have had to respond to a number of controlled burns that got away.

As of May 21, there are nine active wildfires in Saskatchewan; one of which has not been contained. So far this year, there have been 73. The five-year average for this time of year is 129.

WATCH BELOW: Extremely dry conditions fuelling fires across Saskatchewan (April 2019)

McKay said Saskatchewan has not received a request for assistance from Alberta in their fire situation. If one comes, they would assess local threat levels before making a decision.

Throughout the fire season, McKay encouraged people to keep track of local fire bans. These are put in place by municipalities and rural municipalities and can change frequently.

READ MORE: RM of Biggar reeve blasts ‘ridiculous’ Sask. disaster assistance program

Unless precipitation comes soon, McKay does not expect to see fire conditions change.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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