More fires than usual in northern Sask. this year

More fires than usual in northern Sask. this year

22 September 2010

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Canada —  Northern Saskatchewan has seen 570 forest fires this year – that is 12 fires above the 10-year recorded average, said a guest speaker Tuesday at the Forest Centre for national forestry week.

“Our north was very dry. They didn’t get the rains until late August this year,” said Larry Fremont, fire education and prevention co-ordinator for Environment Saskatchewan, who has been working in the industry for 25 years.

On average, about 40 per cent or 231 of these fires were caused by humans and 60 per cent or 339 were caused by lightning.

These fires usually start from activities like traditional burning, camping and a lot of communities have a lot of kids that are lighting fires, too, he said.

“The biggest thing is being aware of the risk,” said Fremont. “Spring is typically the worst time (for fires) because the grass hasn’t greened up. It’s very dry, fires start easy and carry easy.”

Any time the temperature is higher than the relative humidity, fires will start easily, he explained.

Around 30 people came out to the Forest Centre on their Tuesday lunch break where they were served with hot soup and dessert while listening to Fremont make his presentation.

Officially fire season starts on April 1 and ends on Oct. 31.

“What you should do is create a fire resistant home where you don’t have cedar shakes,” said Fremont.

Cedar shakes are wood shingles people use on their homes, which should be treated if put up, he said.

Fremont also spoke of the Nisbet fire that started May 17 this year and burned through 298 hectares of forest and took about a week to put out.

Thermal scanners were used to see if there were any hot spots under roots and peat moss to make sure it was fully out, he said.

“There was some plans to do salvage logging in there. SaskPower has a contract to clean out the trees on the power lines.”

Eventually the forest will regenerate on its own, said Fremont.

Keith Dodge, president of the Saskatchewan Forestry Association, said he wanted to have a speaker that would inform people about the fire that happened in Nisbet Forest because it’s important that people know how easy fires start and what preventive steps they can take.

“Forest fires are close to Prince Albert and the community quite often and people like to know what they should be doing about their sites, particularly if they live just out of town near the forests, so they can protect their sites,” said Dodge.

He also said it was interesting for people to see how nature regenerates after a fire and brings back a new forest.

A group was organized to go out at 6 p.m. to the site of the Nisbet fire and see the site four months after it was put out.

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