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Saskatchewan Wildfire Management Program better prepared this wildfire season

Saskatchewan and Alberta are in the midst of wildfire season.

On, Tuesday, April 19th, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment held a press conference discussing what is being done to handle the fires.

“After last year’s fire season and fire review, we’ve secured some more equipment, more radios, pumps, and hose, so we will have that already in stockpile in the warehouse for use if we need that. We’re as prepared, and a little bit farther ahead than we were at this time last year,” reports Steve Roberts, Executive Director of the Wildfire Management Program.

Roberts also discussed added measures taken to manage early Spring fires. The program is equipped with 2 CV-580 air-tanker groups, retardant-hauler aircraft. As well, crews were brought back over 2 weeks ago to get earlier initial spring training for the season.

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With temperatures and winds having reached 20 degrees in the past few weeks, the crews are expecting quick-moving grass fires predominantly, but conditions are not currently much more dry than this time last year.

According to Roberts, most fires, if not all, are caused by people, many “from roadside fires, people burning ditches, or doing a little yard burning.” Roberts also reminded citizens to make sure they have their permits.

“People do need to get a notification permit from us. If they are within an RM boundary, they should check with the RM about getting a fire permit as well, just so we can manage these fires, know when they occur, and make sure that we’ll be able to help folks. And their local fire department will be able to help them as well if they’re in an RM land.”

Since last week, a number of rural municipalities have issued fire bans and announced they will not be issuing permits. The rural municipalities in the Lloydminster area that have done so include, Britannia, Eldon, Mervin, Paynton, and Wilton, as well as specifically in the Town of Lashburn.

Roberts says that the Wildfire Management Program has added crews this year to help handle fires. In fact, four more crews were added, in addition to Type 2 Contract crews that will work in agreement with Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Agency Chiefs Tribal Council, and the northern communities. The government crews are 4-person teams and for the contract crew, which are mostly ground crews, they are mostly 5-person teams.

There have been 18 wildfires in Saskatchewan for this year so far, and as of last week, 6 were currently burning in the province.

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