Heightened grass fire potential exists as a result of dry conditions in the Southwest

Dry conditions in parts of the Southwest have prompted the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to issue a reminder to be cautious while out on the land this spring.

“Areas in southern Saskatchewan, which have been snow-free for several weeks, that were not impacted by the recent southern spring storms, are at a higher of risk grass fires occurring until dead and dry vegetation turns green,” Chris Clement from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency explained.

In a media briefing on Thursday morning to discuss the outlook for grass fires and wildfires in the province, SPSA representatives said a normal to above normal wildfire season is anticipated in 2022. And while these conditions are influenced by summer weather trends, the existing conditions are prompting a call to be cautions while on the land.

“Please take this time to fire smart your home and property. Prune your trees and branches, keep your yard free of debris. If you’re camping, float and stir campfire coals and put them out completely,” Clement said.

Jeanette Krayetski, Manager of Intelligence and Situational Awareness with the SPSA, noted that their highest area of concern for grass fires are the portions of southern Saskatchewan that have already been snow free for an extended period of time.

“This time of year after the snow melts or where open lands have been snow free and dry, it is a risk. Until things ‘green up’, until the vegetation starts to turn green and the leaves on the trees flush out, it is a very high risk time for that dry dormant vegetation to start on fire. And those fires, because of Saskatchewan’s spring winds, can quickly become uncontrollable.”

“We ask people to be extremely careful when they are out working on the landscape. We are all happy to see that snow go away, and people are anxious to get out into the fields, do brush clearing, perhaps clean off ditches and do some burning. But all of these activities definitely pose a hazard and a risk. Until everything is green, and we’re just not quite there yet, we ask people to be extremely careful to understand the fire hazard and the burning conditions.”

Krayetski also reminded the public to be cautious during any outdoor activities at this time of year, especially with spring winds and low precipitation totals in parts of the province.

“Those risks are there. And until things are green, perhaps we get some nice timely rains, we ask people to be extra cautious when they are using any type of open fire, or outdoor activities like quading, farm equipment, industry, to be cognizant of the conditions around them.”