By Morinvillenews.com Staff
Sturgeon County – It was a busy spring for Sturgeon County firefighters. Crews responded to 78 emergency calls between Apr. 25 and June 8. Of that number, 51 were due to wild land fires, grass fires, re-kindles from previous controlled burns and downed power lines.
Three of the 51 fires consumed the majority of firefighters’ time. The Lily Lake Estates fire began May 14 and took four days to control, ultimately destroying 200 hectares. The Sturgeon River / Casa Vista fire began May 15, consumed 900 hectares, and took eight-and-a-half days to control.
Sturgeon County Fire Chief Pat Mahoney said the fact the fire started on a Sunday benefitted the County and landowners due to the availability of volunteer crews. “If it had been a Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m not sure what the outcome would have been,” Mahoney told county Council Tuesday morning.
Another substantial fire broke out on May 17 at Township Road 580 and Range Road 234. That blaze took between four and five days to bring under control.
In total, 3,000 hectares were consumed over the two-week period.
Most troubling is the fact 16 of the 51 fires are deemed suspicious, 11 of those occurring in the Goose Hummock and Lost Point Estates area. Mahoney said his department is working with the RCMP and the public to determine who may have started the fires.
But while a potential fire bug remains to be found, County Peace Officers charged four county residents with burning during a fire ban and one charge of failing to comply with fire permit conditions. The fines for the two offences are $500 and $250, respectively.
Sturgeon County reduced its fire ban to a fire advisory June 1 and began issuing fire permits once again on June 8.
Although burning with permit is permitted, residents are urged to remain vigilant and call 9-1-1 if they see smoke or any suspicious activity. Residents who may have information about the Goose Hummuck, Jurassic Forest and Lost Point Estates areas are asked to contact Protective Services at 780-939-0600.