Even though rain fell onto the south Interlake last week, it was not enough for the RMs of Rockwood and Woodlands to lift their outdoor burning bans.
An unseasonably dry spring had caused both RMs to implement fire bans, Rockwood on April 24 and Woodlands on May 3. Both bans prohibit the ignition of camp fires, garbage burning, yard waste burning and agricultural burning in order to reduce the chance of grass and bush fires. As of May 27, the bans were still in effect.
Curtis McClintock, councillor for the RM of Rockwood and chief of the Stonewall-Rockwood Fire Department, said overall, residents are adhering to the ban.
“We’ve got to credit the residents of the RM,” he told The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times. “(The Stonewall-Rockwood Fire Department) had a couple of calls, but nothing to the extreme.”
However, in Rockwood’s case, the bans were put into place just as calls for grass and bush fires were approaching a critical point.
“It was getting to the point where we knew it was dry … We kind of addressed it just at the right time because things were dry and we implemented it between (myself, Teulon-Rockwood fire chief Chris Dawson and Stony Mountain-Rockwood fire chief Wallace Drysdale). Teulon probably had some bigger fires and just because of where they are located in some of the swamps and some of the bigger bush, they were probably the bigger advocate of this fire ban,” McClintock said.
Dry soil conditions can depend on the spring melt where a quick melt with little snow cover can cause problems for fire departments in the warmer months ahead.
“If we get this rain and we get some heat and things green up, that definitely slows conditions down and things don’t burn as quick,” McClintock said.
He added that the department gets on average 30 to 50 grass fire calls per year, but
McClintock said residents acting on common sense can help prevent these types of fires. Some tips include burning close to a water source, far away from combustibles and on a day with little wind.