The Peace River Fire Department is urging residents to take extra precautions after a quartet of grass fires kept crews very busy over the weekend. Fire Chief Tim Harris says of the four grass fires on Saturday, they’ve determined three were likely caused by people.
Harris says crews were already busy on Saturday, preparing for the wildfire season with pre-planned burns unconnected to the four other fires.
“We were carrying out some controlled hazard reduction burn in Peace River, which is [done] in some areas where dead grass is very close to some of our houses, and we try to reduce that hazard if a wildfire does come into town,” he says.
He says he understands the excitement of people wanting to get back outside but is urging anyone who may take in some outdoor activities to do so safely, especially with the current very dry grass conditions.
“The grass is very dry, it doesn’t take much to get it burning, and any kind of wind it takes off very quickly, a lot quicker than people realize.” Harris also wants to remind Off-Highway Vehicle users to keep their vehicles clear of debris, like dried grass and leaves, specifically near spots that heat up rapidly like the muffler, or in the wheel wells.
“Sparks and embers could be dropped as they’re driving through and they don’t even realize they’ve started a fire… and before they know it, the fire is spreading very quickly,” he adds.
Residents in the Town of Peace River are allowed to have a backyard fire in a noncombustible fire pit that has a screen on top, however, for any other fire types, including bonfires, a permit is required.
“If somebody burns a large fire without a permit, we can fine them, we can also charge them the cost of extinguishing any fires related to that,” he adds.