Officials in southern Manitoba monitoring grass fires closely, fear re-ignition
Published Friday, March 23, 2012 6:11PM CST
Officials in southern Manitoba are keeping a close eye on a wildfire that has been burning since Wednesday in the RM of Stuartburn.
"We'll be keeping an eye on it pretty close and the biggest thing is what the weather does," said Mike Paciorka of the Vita Fire Department.
The blaze is one of many grass fires that flared up around the province this week.
Provincial officials dispatched multiple fire crews to battle the blaze that had worsened in the RM of Stuartburn area Thursday.
The fire tore through Dean and Sara Wall's backyard, destroying buildings on their farm and leaving behind a charred mess.
"We lost a number of buildings," Sara said. "We lost a 100-year-old barn – one of the reasons we bought the property."
The ordeal began Wednesday, Sara said, when the fire in Stuartburn re-ignited after fire crews brought it under control.
The fire was on their doorstep by morning, Sara said. Five separate fire departments then worked to save the Wall's home and five other homes that were affected by the fire. An air-tanker was also dispatched to drop fire retardant, said the province.
"It's black all around us. They saved the house. They saved everything important," said Dean.
Another family affected by the fire, Anne and William Myskiw, said they didn't sleep Wednesday night as flames surrounded their farm of almost 50 years.
"I cried. I thought everything might be lost," said Anne. "Thank goodness for the good people from the fire department."
No property losses were reported Thursday, officials said. But the blaze was still burning Friday, and crews were standing by for hot spots and flare ups.
Hydro crews were also working in the area to restore power after flames took out a number of lines.
In addition, a fire ban in the RM of Stuartburn was in effect and officials warned residents and visitors to be careful.
"Those fires that started in the last couple days are not natural. They're man-made. Everyone's got to be careful," said Jim Swidersky, the reeve of the RM of Stuartburn.
Thursday, the province urged people to respect any burning bans implemented by RMs and to be careful with any off-road travel by ATVs or other vehicles.
"The conditions are very, very dangerous right now," Swidersky said. "All it takes is a few hours, and we could have the same conditions as the past few days."
Officials also advised avoiding controlled burning where possible or to take precaution when carrying out any authorized burning.
Fire crews also battled blazes Thursday in Headingley and Lenore.
-- with a report from CTV's Jillian Taylor and Caroline Barghout.