Wildfire contained after raging through southern Saskatchewan park

Wildfire contained after raging through southern Saskatchewan park

28 April 2013

published by www.metronews.ca

Canada — Emergency crews scrambled on Sunday to keep a massive fire contained in a southern Saskatchewan national park, after it had raged out of control earlier on the weekend.

The wildfire had stretched across an estimated 25 kilometres at Grasslands National Park near Val Marie, pushed on Saturday by strong winds that fuelled its flames and kept approximately 200 firefighters at the national, provincial and local levels on the run.

“It was pretty spectacular,” Duane McKay, provincial commissioner of emergency management and fire safety, said on Sunday of what had become a wall of flames at the park, about 160 kilometres southeast of Swift Current.

“It was anywhere from 10 to 15 miles long. The fire was fed by some significant winds, around 60 kilometres an hour … it travelled a pretty good distance, and in a very short period of time.”

Adding to the challenge for Parks Canada staff and other crews, he explained, was the course of the inferno “across the park into the coulees, and into some pretty rough country.”

While McKay said the blaze was “pretty much” contained by Sunday, officials were trying to assess the damage it had caused and determine how much land it had scorched.

“There might be damage to fences inside,” he said of the park, adding that the fire fortunately missed the site’s campground.
“No homes were lost, but there could be some buildings in the park that might have been damaged. The park will do an assessment in the next couple of days.”

The fire’s cause hadn’t been determined. In addition to finding out how it had started, McKay explained, the task of officials and their crews is “to make sure that if the weather changes and the winds come up again, there won’t be an extension to the fire.”

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