Almost any wildfire can turn into a scary situation in a hurry, but the one the Estevan Fire Department battled over the weekend turned into one of their tensest fights of wildland fire season yet. By the time they put it out, the fire was just feet from a home.
The call first came in to dispatch crews to a fire north of the city at about 2:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. The grass fire was actually encroaching on the boundary of the City of Estevan, and spreading rapidly.
"Crews did arrive on-scene to find it was a fairly large wildland fire that was occurring," said Fire Chief Dale Feser. "There were a lot of landowners out in the field trying to suppress the fire with shovels and brooms and whatnot."
With the efforts to contain the fire under way already, crews went to work to assist those in the field in limiting its spread. In addition to the properties and homes in the immediate area, there were water wells that were also threatened by the fire.
"It came pretty close and there were some pretty tense moments there," Feser said. "It came to within approximately 20 feet of some acreages and houses there and shops, but we were able to stop it without any significant property damage other than some fence posts."
There were no injuries due to this fire either, despite how close it came to houses. The fire department has been warning people not to burn things unnecessarily as the dry, windy conditions could lead to sparks catching the grass. As it turned out, this was exactly what happened to start this fire.
"After an investigation into the cause of the fire, it was found that a property owner to the northwest of where the fire had occurred there was utilizing a burning barrel," said Feser, "unattended with no spark arresters there and the wind had come up and deposited some burning materials into the field."
Feser added burning barrels aren't the best idea right now in general, but if people must use them they should keep a very close eye on them, He also said some kind of mesh guard to keep the sparks from landing on the grass would be a necessity.