Four small, separate grass fires ignited along the railway track near the Hwy. 53 overpass in Ponoka, on the west side of the Battle River, around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 6.
Ponoka County Regional Fire Services, EMS and CP Rail were on the scene. By 9 a.m., the fires were mostly doused, though still smouldering somewhat.
Fire service members couldn’t located any other source of ignition for the fires besides the train, according to Donna Noble, protective services coordinator.
“There wasn’t any indication they were caused by anything else,” said Noble.
There was one fire just south of the Hwy. 53 overpass bridge, one close to the pedestrian bridge, one behind Family Meats and one outside of town at Township Road 432 and the railway track, northeast of the industrial park.
All of the fires were small enough that they were easily extinguished, however, crews had to work fast before the wind and dry conditions could work against them, says Noble.
Crews searched north along the rail line to check for more fires, going almost all the way to Maskwacis, but didn’t find any more.
In total, four trucks were deployed: two brush trucks and one engine in town, and one engine out of town.
All fires were doused and trucks were back to the station by about 10:30 a.m.
The fire advisory for Ponoka County remains in place. Burn permits for rural areas are being issued on a case-by-case basis.
Backyard fire pits with screens are permitted, although minimal fire use is being encouraged due to recent windy conditions.