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M.D. of Foothills latest to declare a fire ban in Southern Alberta

The M.D. of Foothills 31 has become the latest in a string of Southern Alberta municipalities to declare a fire ban due to hot and dry conditions.

Deputy Fire Chief Gregg Schaalje told 660 NEWS that the recent increase in temperatures and the humidity plummeting has created prime conditions for grassfires.

Schaalje said this is about being more proactive than reactive.

“With the heat rising and the humidity plummeting, we hit a point of crossover and what crossover is when our temperature exceeds our humidity, so for example we hit 24 degrees and our relative humidity drops below 24 degrees that is crossover, right at 24 and 24. And then once it gets below 24 per cent relative humidity we have a prime opportunity for grassfires to start,” he said. “We know in the Foothills region we are starting to see some harvesting to happen as well so we want everybody to be cautious, everybody be aware that the grasslands are drying out, the forest areas are drying out, in fact the forest areas have an extreme warning out right now in all our wildfire areas so we want to be proactive as much as we can.”

The fire ban is on all fires, permits have been cancelled, there will be no opening burning, fire barrels, camp fires, even fire works.

Anyone who sees any kind of smoke is being asked to call 911 immediately and not to try putting out yourself.

“We had an incident in a neighbouring municipality yesterday where a bystander tried to put it out and actually had to go to the hospital for smoke inhalation,” he said.

Schaalje added that the ban will last over the foreseeable future, temperatures won’t be as high over the weekend but the problem is they are not anticipating a lot of rain.

“If you do have a fire and we do have to respond to your location, there will be some negative consequences, absolutely,” he said.

It’s been a busy summer so far for staff, he added that call volumes are up already 10 to 15 per cent this summer compared to this time last year.

They’re putting on a big push because they don’t want anyone to lose their home, their livestock or their lives.

“We just ask and urge for fire safety throughout, and make sure that no one is lighting fires and if you do see a fire call 911 as quickly as possible so we can have our firefighters respond,” he said. “And be aware all the time, definitely.”

According to the province’s website, there are six fire bans in place including the M.D. of Foothills, 11 restrictions and several advisories.

To hear our full interview with Deputy Chief Gregg Schaalje click below.