The blazing temperatures across the arid shortgrass prairie is contributing to what’s expected to be a blanket of fire bans that will cover the southern portion of the province like the noon-time sun this week.
For the first time in at least 15 years, that will include the City of Medicine Hat. That means no open burning, including wood burning fire pits, or charcoal BBQ use until further notice.
As of now the Canada Day fireworks are a go, but organizers with the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede say extra precautions will be taken.
Saturday’s grass fire in the city limits saw a large swath of land scorched on Medicine Hat’s north end, driven by strong gusts throughout the afternoon.
It was the second and largest grassfire in the city in the past week.
“The fire risk is extreme,” said MHFD Chief Brian Stauth. “All our vegetation on our hills and coulees are tinder dry.”
The weekend fire was started simply enough as a farm implement struck a rock, caused a spark and ignited a whole lot of trouble for homes and businesses near 23rd Street NW.
“As we saw on Saturday, we can have fire risks that put people and homes at risk,” said Stauth, adding that having such an elevated risk in June, “is a little earlier than we see.”
The city’s fire chief also says the combination of hot temperatures, the need to wear heavy protective gear and the risk of dehydration for crews can put firefighters at risk.
Stauth stressed drivers should absolutely not be tossing cigarette butts out windows at the best of times.
And the current conditions are anything but that.
Environment Canada is calling for mostly 35-plus temperatures for at least the next seven days, with no rain in sight.
Cypress County currently has fire restrictions in place as of Monday afternoon.
Fire permits have been cancelled with no fireworks allowed.
The situation is much the same in the County of Newell. The rural municipalities of Acadia Valley, Taber and Lethbridge are under fire advisories.
The City of Lethbridge has imposed a fire ban.
However, those situations could change quickly and the latest regional listings can be found at albertafirebans.ca.
, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News