With scorching temperatures expected this Victoria Day long weekend, the risk of grassfires happening in and around the city, and while camping becomes greater.
In 2022, the Moose Jaw Fire Department was called to 17 grassfires which were slightly below average compared to previous years. However, they are expecting this summer to be busy.
“So far, we don't have a really dry situation in Saskatchewan, but I've just checked on a few things and Natural Resources Canada’s fire severity forecast maps show a very high to extreme rating through much of the Prairies, especially Alberta and Saskatchewan, particularly through May and June this year,” said Moose Jaw Fire Department’s Public Education Officer Cathie Bassett.
There are a number of factors that can start grassfires including fireworks, discarded cigarettes, lightning strikes, and campfires that haven’t been fully put out.
“You should always, always avoid outside fires on a dry or windy day, it just makes sense. If you're having a campfire even, that is something that you should really be careful with. Make sure that campfire is put out completely before you leave or before you go to bed if you’re camping,” Bassett said.
If you are out in the country and planning a controlled burn, Bassett recommended you check with your Rural Municipality to make sure you are allowed to burn debris and avoid burning on dry, windy days.
Meanwhile, the Moose Jaw Fire Department has, in the past, issued a non-burning clause within city limits when conditions become dangerously dry.
“We were not like Northern Alberta or Northern Saskatchewan or Northern Manitoba, where we have a lot of forestry. We do not have a lot of trees around us, but that grassfire can get going very quickly because it's long, it's dry, and on a windy day it can go very, very, very fast,” Bassett said
If a grassfire does break out, immediately call 9-1-1. Bassett said, if you are in the country, share as much information as you can about your location and any sources of water that the fire department can tap into.
As of Saturday, there are no fire bans within the Moose Jaw area. You can find the Government of Saskatchewan’s fire ban map here.