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15,000 acres burned in Blood Tribe wildfire Sunday, caused by sweat lodge session

A grass fire that ravaged about 15,000 acres burned on the Blood Reserve on Sunday, March 28, 2021. Courtesy: Blood Tribe Communications

A wildfire that burned near Standoff, Alta., on Sunday afternoon was started by a nearby sweat lodge session.

The blaze was one of multiple fires burning in southern Alberta on Sunday, including in Vulcan County, where a wildfire near Carmangay caused an evacuation order.

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In a statement, the Blood Tribe communications department said the grass fire started shortly after noon on Sunday, March 28, near Highway 509. The Blood Tribe Fire Department was deployed and set up an incident command and staging area near a hay plant.

According to the release, more than 30 Blood Tribe firefighters with five fire trucks received assistance from fire departments in Raymond, Coaldale, Magrath and Mid-Rivers, as well as a local Hutterite colony. Farmers from the colony arrived with tractors and disc equipment, which was used to create a fireguard that was 30- to 40-feet wide, to contain the fire and keep it from spreading.

Read more: Evacuation order for Carmangay, Alta. ends as wildfire in Vulcan County contained

Blood Tribe officials said the grass fire burned about 15,000 acres of land across an area stretching 28 kilometres west to east and six kilometres south to north along Highway 509.

Fire Chief Jacen Abrey confirmed that the Blood Tribe Fire Department had determined the blaze was started by a sweat lodge session occurring near Highway 509.

Click to play video: 'Grass fires force evacuations in southern Alberta' Grass fires force evacuations in southern Alberta
Grass fires force evacuations in southern Alberta – Mar 29, 2021

Abrey estimated on Sunday night that about 15 homes had to be evacuated as a result of the fire, with the Blood Tribe housing department estimating that it could have been as many as 24 homes.

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A temporary shelter was assembled for evacuees at the multipurpose building in Standoff.

Blood Tribe communications told Global News that as of Monday night, no reports of damaged homes had been made and no injuries had been reported.

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