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Winnipeg firefighters tied up with dozens of grass, wild fires

Click to play video: 'Crews busy with brush fires' Crews busy with brush fires
Crews busy with brush fires – Apr 30, 2021

Winnipeg fire crews have had their hands full battling grass and wild fires this spring — responding to 39 fires in April alone.

Assistant fire Chief Mark Reshaur told Global News the dry spring has been the main factor.

“Things are very dry, and when it’s very dry, the risk is always elevated,” he said.

“We need to remind people that are living on the edge of forested areas, or within forested areas, or on the edge of large fields, to make their properties more resilient against the impact of these fires.”

Since the beginning of the year, crews have been called to 66 grass or wild fires, making it the busiest spring since 2017.

Outside the perimeter, the unseasonably dry conditions triggered an early start to the year for firefighters across the province as well.

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“We started off very early this year at the beginning of April which is not normal. It’s usually later in the year when we get started,” says David Schafer, the director of the Manitoba Wildfire Service.

The provincial wild fire service has only responded to 19 fires so far this season, compared to an average of 42 for this time of year.

“We are still in drought conditions in southern Manitoba,” Schafer continued.

“We’re in better shape in northern Manitoba where there’s been a lot more precipitation.”

Read more: Winnipeg firefighters battle third ‘significant’ wildland fire in two days

Reshaur said this time of year also attracts firebugs looking to commit arson.

“People start cleaning up their yards, they start putting out their yard waste along the fences, along the lanes… and all of that stuff attracts the attention of opportunistic fire-setters.

“We need to not be putting those things out until the last minute, or we need to make arrangements to take that stuff out to the dump ourselves.”

Another danger in dry conditions is irresponsibly disposed of cigarettes — something Reshaur said he’s experienced personally.

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“My daughter extinguished a cigarette in a flowerpot, and the peat moss started to smoulder, and when I walked outside an hour later, I could smell the smoke and I found the fire,” he said.

“So we really need to be disposing of our cigarettes appropriately in an ashtray.

“Don’t flick them into the grass, don’t flick them down beside your deck, don’t throw them away — put them in the ashtray.”

Saturday is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day.

Click to play video: 'Dry spring and brush fire prevention' Dry spring and brush fire prevention
Dry spring and brush fire prevention – Mar 24, 2021

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