Firefighters narrowly escape blaze as crews contend with dry conditions
Two Winnipeg firefighters were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after a blaze that saw them temporarily trapped.
The fire broke out past St. Mary’s Road and the Floodway late Wednesday afternoon.
The president of the union representing Winnipeg firefighters, Alex Forrest, told CTV News it was a harrowing experience for four firefighters trapped by smoke and flames.
“A crew got caught. The fire overcame them and they were lucky to get out,” said Forrest.
Shifting winds were their saving grace according to Forrest, allowing them to see beyond the smoke surrounding them and find their way to safety.
“Those firefighters thought that this was it,” said Forrest.
“They thought they were going to die in this fire.”
The close call cameas Winnipeg deals with the second driest spring on record.
Environment Canada said Winnipeg has seen only about 16 per cent of the normal precipitation it would typically see between March 20 and May 2.
Dry conditions, coupled with gusting winds, have led to crews being forced to battle a number of wildland fires.
“You may be a firefighter in Winnipeg and not fight a grass fire for two or three years in your career,” said Forrest.
“Then all of a sudden you’re put into a situation where you’re fighting one grass fire after another.”
Speaking with CTV News by phone, Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said much of the precipitation falling was vanishing before it hit the ground because of the dry air.
“What we need are rescue rains and need it in a considerate detail.”
As for within city limits, it has not been much better for Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, which was kept busy Thursday afternoon with a number of house fires.
Firefighters were called to the 600 block of Wellington Avenue this afternoon around 1 p.m. where a garage fire extended to the next door house causing damage to both homes.
No injuries were reported and the cause is under investigation.