The damage is significant on the Kainai Nation in southern Alberta following a destructive fire Monday that destroyed three vehicles, including two belonging to emergency agencies.
The Blood Tribe Police Service was notified about a grass fire in the Old Agency area shortly after 7 p.m. Monday.
According to police, the driver of a truck was allegedly herding horses and sparked the initial blaze in a dry grain field. Multiple homes in the area were placed under an evacuation order as the fire jeopardized the properties.
The truck was lost to the flames, but it wasn’t the only vehicle that saw damage.
Brian Harmatiuk, acting inspector of operations for the Blood Tribe Police Service, says a police-owned Ford F150 truck was lost to the blaze, as was a Blood Tribe Fire Department truck that attempted to get behind the inferno.
“The cost of damages, I would say, is going to be over $300,000. When you look at the cost of a fully equipped police vehicle, a fire vehicle, and the original personal vehicle. It’s going to be substantial,” estimated Harmatiuk.
He went on to share that while it’s troubling to lose these vehicles, the Blood Tribe Police Service is still fully equipped to serve the community.
According to Harmatiuk, one officer received minor injuries while attempting to retrieve belongings from the scorched vehicle.
During the heat of the evening, crews from Mid River, Picture Butte and Coalhurst responded to help mitigate damage and received assistance from water trucks belonging to farmers and Hutterite colonies from the area.
Blood Tribe Police also indicated that an unknown plane in the area helped dump water from the sky.
“There was also a small plane in the area believed to be like a crop duster plane,” said Harmatiuk. “We don’t know who that person was, but we would like to speak to that person and thank them for their efforts to contain the fire.”
Officials say the investigation is ongoing and they don’t believe any charges will be laid as the driver of the initial vehicle has been cooperative with police.
“It’s an accidental thing,” added Harmatiuk.
“I guess we would like to remind people not to drive in any field for any reason. There has to be another way to do what you need to do, but certainly in these kind of tinder, dry conditions, it’s really not a good idea to be out in a vehicle with a hot exhaust.”
While the initial fire was knocked down in four hours, first responders continued to monitor the scene afterward and doused hot spots to prevent them from reigniting.