Alberta fire officials are warning of possible grass fires this weekend, as dry and warm conditions are ripe for flare-ups. The warnings come following two significant grass fires near Calgary.
Cochrane Fire Service Insp. Jeff Avery said Thursday’s grass fire near Cochrane was the largest blaze they’ve battled so far this season.
It’s unclear how many hectares burned, but firefighters from Cochrane, Rocky View County, Redwood and Nakoda all responded.
Both the Town of Cochrane and Rocky View County issued a fire ban Thursday.
“It’s largely because of the amount of fires we’ve been having and the one in Rocky View definitely opened our eyes,” Avery said.
“We can get grass fires coming at us in all sorts of direction… It’s hard to predict because most grass fires are preventable. You just never know where they’re going to flare up.”
‘It was a nightmare. It was really scary’
On Friday afternoon — more than 24 hours after the fire broke out — firefighters remained on scene at an acreage near Highway 1A, putting out hotspots.
The acreage smelled of strong smoke and was covered with scorched earth.
The grass fire ripped through the acreage Thursday and charred through the roof of the home Blaire and AJ Rivard rent. A sea-can was also heavily damaged.
“(It was) pretty severe,” AJ said. “It came right across the valley to the front of the house, where the house caught fire and the remainder of the acreage.”
Blaire was quickly warned about the fast-moving fire coming dangerously close. She grabbed her two dogs and got out. Her 17 chickens and one duck were thankfully saved by firefighters.
“I love my birds so much,” she said. “I just picture (the firefighters) just hurrying our birds into a kennel, and trying to fight the blaze. They’re the true heroes.”
“(There’s) a lot of smoke damage on the interior of the house,” AJ said.
“Obviously, the fire department had to use water to battle the blaze, so there’s significant flooding on the main floor and in the basement.”
The Rivards said they are grateful for firefighters who battled the large fire, through dangerous conditions and they’re glad no one was injured and only property was damaged.
“These situations just make you count your blessings.”