Lightning sparks fire concerns in southern Saskatchewan

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Lightning sparks fire concerns in southern Saskatchewan
WATCH ABOVE: Lightning is forecasted for southern Saskatchewan and fire crews are preparing for potential flames – Jun 13, 2019

Fire crews across southern Saskatchewan will be on high alert on Thursday and Friday with lightning in the forecast.

Warman’s fire chief said the dry conditions are a concern, turning ditches that once held water into dry areas.

“We have cattails and long grass and no water to be found. Those areas traditionally we never had to worry about or the landowners never had to worry about for fires. And now those are the areas that are most prone to a spark,” fire chief Russ Austin said.

Thunderstorms are expected in and around Saskatoon.

READ MORE: Spring 2019 driest in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw recorded history

Environment Canada said it late in the year for grass fires, but they are still able to flare up because of the extremely dry conditions.

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“Things aren’t greening up as fast as they should and because things are still so dry, that grass fire risk still does exist,” meteorologist Terri Lang said.

According to the province’s wildfire management branch, southern portions of the province were set at high or extreme on the Fire Weather Index Thursday.

Those areas are going through drought conditions with Saskatoon and Moose Jaw breaking records for their driest springs.

READ MORE: Over 200mm rain needed to ease drought conditions in southern Sask.

Austin said his department has asked anyone who lives on an acreage to trim bushes and trees around their homes.

He added rainfall over the past week has done little to help prevent fires from quickly spreading.

“Any lightning strike, especially when we have conditions like the ones coming up over the next couple of days – where there is a higher probability of lightning strikes – it’s something we have to prepare for, for sure,” he said.

There have 131 wildfires so far this year. Of those, only six were caused by lightning.

The province said that this is normal for this time of year and expects half of all wildfires to be caused by lightning by the end of the fire season.


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