By Jasmine Franklin
Extreme dry conditions and high winds pushed county council to issue a fire ban across Ponoka County a few days earlier than usual.
Originally set as a budget meeting, county council was drawn to the issue of an out-of-control fire occurring in Red Deer March 30. Tom Webber, assistant chief administrative officer, said the ban is necessary for the current conditions.
“We definitely need the moisture,” Webber said. “Strong winds put the county in a high risk situation. We are going to have to wait until we get moisture to burn fires.”
Most of central Alberta is in the same situation. Fire bans have been issued in Lacombe, Red Deer, Stettler and Mountain View counties as well as in Ponoka and Blackfalds as early as March 29. One fire in the Blindman River Valley was estimated to be 2½ kilometres wide by 1½ kilometres long.
“We’ve had fires all around us in Hobbema, Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer but not in Ponoka County yet,” said Ponoka Fire Chief Ted Dillon. “It is extremely dry out there.”
The fire ban denies the issuant of any fire permits and allows only cooking fires and barbecues.
“It’s essentially only controlled fires,” Webber said. “Lacombe, Red Deer and Ponoka counties are on the same wavelength when it comes to this.”
The fire ban will continue until further notice.