Fire crews battle a grass fire near Yelowhead Trail and the Anthony Henday Drive, in Edmonton Monday April 22, 2019.
David Bloom / Postmedia
Fire crews have attended a number of grass fires in and around Edmonton over the past week and although the recent snowfall may bring a small reprieve, the city and surrounding areas are not completely in the clear as large areas of exposed, dry grass can easily create a fire hazard.In Edmonton, this past week saw fire crews battling two grass fires — one which flared up in the river valley on Wednesday and another on Monday where crews were on scene for a fire near 184 Avenue and Yellowhead Trail.Speaking at the re-opening of the Rossdale fire station Saturday, Edmonton Fire Rescue Service Chief Ken Block said the recent snowfall is a blessing as it brings in moisture and lowers humidity and temperature, decreasing the risk for fires.“April and May are the most critical months of the year for wildfire risk. This snow won’t last long, and we’re going to need some rain,” said Block. “Until things start to green up, that’s what we need to see, and then the risk will start to diminish.This is going to help us through the weekend. If it’s windy and warm next week, we’re going to be right back to a risky time.”He added that it’s important for citizens to be really diligent about fire risk, especially when it comes to cigarette disposal.Outside of Edmonton, Strathcona Country RCMP and fire personnel were on scene of two separate grass fires this week. On Wednesday, they attended a fire near Range Road 220 just south of Township Road 554. Then on Thursday, crews battled a grass fire south of Sherwood Drive in Sherwood Park. In both cases, no residences were in the area of the grass fire.The province has also put a number of fire advisories and restrictions in place. Although fire dangers remain moderate to low in most areas, the wildfire danger for Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan is high due to dry, cured grasses.The Lac La Biche area also has a high wildfire danger and according to the province, “warm temperatures and strong winds have done a good job in drying out the grass as well as the heavier fuels in the forest.”With low humidity and strong winds, the potential for a wildfire to flare up and spread quickly is increased.Two wildfires flared up Wednesday in the Rocky Forest Area one of which burned 2.5 hectares within the First Nations community of Big Horn 144A, located about 320 kilometres southwest of Edmonton. Fire crews worked to prevent the fire from spreading from dry grass to nearby buildings and homes. The fire is under control.Derek Gagnon, provincial information officer for wildfires said in an email some tips and reminders for Albertans travelling and camping include using proper campfire use.In a campground or recreational area, use the designated stove, rings or fire pits which are designed to keep fires from spreading.Be sure to check campfires are fully extinguished by soaking the ashes, stirring them and soaking them again. Then check the area with your hand to ensure it is cool to the touch.When outside of a campground, use sites that are clear of dry grass, bushes, leaves, branches, tree trunks, peat moss and overhanging branches. If the site has already been used for a campfire, use the same site.As well, if using an off-highway vehicle, stop often and remove any built-up debris as it can heat up and start wildfires.If you spot a wildfire, immediately report it by calling 310-FIRE (3473) or by calling 911.— With files from Paige Parsonsajunker@postmedia.comtwitter.com/JunkerAnna