The Millet Fire Department battled a grassfire Thursday May 6, 2021 in the area of Highway 616 and Range Road 265. The MFD crews fought the fire for nearly 11 hours.
Captain Trevor Palmer with the MFD says that multiple elements played into the endurance of the grassfire.
“At the moment of dispatch, winds were gusting at 58-75 km/hour from the Southeast, which made this a fast moving, potentially dangerous fire,” says Palmer.
Palmer states that the large area grassfire has also extended into several brush areas creating pockets of brush fire as well as extending to a large area of manure, hay and straw which presented a considerable fire load for the crews to deal with.
The MFD had to ensure that they stopped the fire from advancing onto several buildings on the property including the residence and a barn, which was immediately threatened.
Palmer said another challenge the crews faced with this fire was the swampy, march like area that they were battling the grass and brushfire at, which forced them to re-route many of their plans to fight the blaze. The soft ground was a deterrent because the MFD were unable to get their heavy trucks close to the head of the fire, resulting in the crews having to deploy very long lengths of heavy fire hose to fight it.
The MFD the department’s side-by-side, also known as the “Mud Puppy” to get closer to the fire as well as their brush-fire truck.
“Without those two apparatus this fire could’ve been far worse,” says Palmer.
When the crews were confident that the advancing grass and brushfire was at a “loss-stopped” status, attention was focused on the smouldering and actively burning piles of manure, straw and hay.
After consulting with Wetaskiwin County’s Director of Emergency Management, Mike Zajac, and the landowner, the MFD decided to bring in a trackhoe to rip apart the piles in order to pour a large amount of water onto it. The MFD called for Mulhurst Fire Department tanker support and both Mulhurst and Millet’s tankers were shuttling water to the scene from their respective department locations.
Palmer says he is confident that by the end of the firefight, tens of thousands of gallons were used to extinguish the fire.
Palmer says the cause of the grassfire is still under investigation.