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County fire service urging safety during extreme cold after several fires

County of Grande Prairie residents are being reminded about fire safety during extreme cold temperatures. The Regional Fire Service says the frigid temperatures over the past several days have made work harder and, as it continues, could hamper future response.

For instance, the tenders regularly used to supply water at the scene started to freeze up as firefighters responded to a shop on fire northeast of Teepee Creek Sunday morning.

“So they were staged in the Teepee Creek Fire Station and the shop at Matco Industries to keep warm and be close by when they were needed,” says Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Bart Johnson. “We are very grateful for the support from Matco Industries,”

In that case, it took all morning to prevent the spread of and put out the fire. No one was injured but it’s noted that back-fill crews were called to a vehicle fire on Highway 43 east of Clairmont at the same time.

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On Monday, the fire service responded to a chimney fire on 101 Avenue in Clairmont and were able to prevent it from spread to the rest of the home without injury. The next day they helped respond to another chimney fire with the Grovedale Fire Department.

Not long after that there was a mobile home fire west of Sexsmith on Range Road 65. It’s noted the resident had tried to thaw water lines underneath their home using an torch, sparking the fire. It was put out quickly and damage was limited.

Fire officials are urging people to make sure their chimneys are kept clean, to not use devices with open flames are used to thaw frozen water lines, and to call 9-1-1 immediately in the case of a fire.

“During the cold, especially in response areas manned by volunteers, response times may be longer as it takes more time to get their personal vehicle running and safely thawed to respond to the fire station,” adds Deputy Fire Chief Jason Nesbitt. “This is exasperated in cases of extreme weather that we are currently experiencing. The earlier the notification, the more efficient the response.”

Residents are encouraged to only burn dry and seasoned wood and to use gas and electric heaters, as well as heat guns as a safer alternative.

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