Burnt field: Ponoka firefighters clear a grass fire on Range Road 233 east of Ponoka near a Santonia Energy sour gas site. Dry fields and high winds have kept firefighters in the field with three or sometimes four calls in a day.

Burnt field: Ponoka firefighters clear a grass fire on Range Road 233 east of Ponoka near a Santonia Energy sour gas site. Dry fields and high winds have kept firefighters in the field with three or sometimes four calls in a day.

Grass fire conditions ignite Ponoka County

“Grass is one of the hottest fires you can get but it’s one of the shortest burning.” Ted Dillon

Between May 6 and 7 Ponoka firefighters were called out eight times to deal with grass fires.

There were no injuries or houses burned down during those fires but all had an element of danger as high winds brought them close to homes. Fire Chief Ted Dillon said grass fires can be dangerous because of the speed at which it burns. “Grass is one of the hottest fires you can get but it’s one of the shortest burning.”

Since the ground is fairly soft from spring thaw fire trucks might not be able to get to a blaze. The best way they can fight a grass fire is on foot in full bunker gear. Crews do have fire retardant coveralls but sometimes a grass fire can turn into a structure fire.

“We’re being prepared.”

Dillon suggests if a person is going to be burning they should have a garden hose ready in case embers catch on something flammable; water buckets with soaked cloths or brooms can also help. Wind speed and direction is another important factor to consider.

If using a burn barrel then cultivate around it or surround the barrel with gravel and if embers do fall out of the barrel the danger is lessened. Anyone doing special burning, whether in the town or county property, must get a fire permit. Town residents can acquire a permit from the fire hall and county residents must contact their councillor.

However if a fire does start then call 911 immediately.

“There’s no fee for our service as long as it’s an accident…And you should never let money become a factor in your decision,” said Dillon.

If planning a backyard bonfire ensure there is a grate over the flames and notify neighbours of the event. “Be courteous of your neighbours, let them know it’s happening.”

Residential yard waste pick up

Town residents are not allowed to burn their yard waste. Yard waste will be picked up by town staff starting May 21 after the May long weekend. Residents can also drop off leaves and clippings to the town transfer station at no cost.

Town staff collect yard waste after the May and October long weekends.