Sweat lodge ceremony may have sparked huge Alberta grass fire

Sweat lodge ceremony may have sparked huge Alberta grass fire

01 December 2011

published by http://www.montrealgazette.com

Canada — CALGARY — A Blood Tribe Police investigation is looking at a sweat lodge as the possible source of a grass fire that destroyed two homes on the reserve and threatened the west side of Lethbridge, Alta., last weekend.

Addison Crow Spread His Wings, 57, a member of the Blood tribe, has come forward and said he was part of a ceremony held near a home on the west end of the reserve on Sunday where a fire spread out of control.

During the ceremony, strong winds caught a spark which ignited the grass and quickly grew, he told the Lethbridge Herald.

Efforts to extinguish the blaze failed.

Crow Spread His Wings also said one of the houses destroyed belonged to his niece.

He said the ceremony was held for a terminally ill resident behind a windbreak, in a spot often used for sweat lodges.

Blood Tribe spokesman Rick Tailfeathers said he’s heard the story but could not confirm the ceremony as the cause of the large grass fire.

“There hasn’t been a report to the Blood Tribe chief and council yet,” said Tailfeathers.

The next council meeting is on Monday and the fire will likely be on the agenda.

Insp. Kyle Melting Tallow said the sweat lodge is a part of the investigation, but the Blood Tribe Police have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.

“That’s part of our investigation, obviously we’re looking into that,” said Melting Tallow.

The fire travelled up to 16 kilometres and spread about 1.5 kilometres wide before it was put out by firefighters from the reserve, and the county and the city of Lethbridge.

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