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Open fire in windy conditions leads to Wembley barn blaze

The County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Service says despite much of the region facing flood issues, the dangers of fires becoming out of control remains high. The warning comes after a barn fire in Wembley on April 21st, which officials believe was caused by embers from an open fire that spread due to winds of more than 50 kilometres an hour.

County Fire Marshal Ken Atamanchuk believes the misconception about the fire danger stems from residents thinking fires won’t be able to pick up steam because much of the ground is saturated in water.

“That top part of the grass, that’s the stuff that’s going be burning, and with the winds, it will burn off the top of that really fast. It may be wet on the bottom, but that top [layer] is the fuel; that’s the stuff that’s going to burn and cause that fire.”

Atamanchuk adds that a fire ban remains in effect in the County of Grande Prairie, including the towns of Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, and Wembley and the Village of Hythe. Burning of any kind is also prohibited if winds are blowing more than 12 kilometres an hour at any time.

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Things that are banned in the County include outdoor or open fires, except permitted permanent recreational fire pits, burn barrels, fireworks, exploding targets, and temporary fire pits. Atamanchuk explains permanent recreational fire pits include fire pits mounted in the ground surrounded by gravel and pavers or other non-combustible materials.

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