Firefighters douse out-of-control grass fire, Erris chief urges caution

An out of control grass fire was extinguished Sunday afternoon by members of the Erris Fire Department.

Chief Dave Stringfellow said the crew acted swiftly to contain the blaze.

“It was very fortunate that our firefighters got on top of it as quickly as we did before the fire had the opportunity to progress further in the areas that we would have been unable to access.”

The fire was approximately half an acre in size.

“It is important to note that this was not just a ‘grass’ fire in a ditch or a field,” he said. “The fire was significantly embedded into a large area that was heavily fueled with dense bush, trees and brush that also had a duff layer of up to four inches in some areas. “

The cause of the fire is “just a mystery,” said Stringfellow. Firefighters were able to establish it was not caused by a careless open burn, however.

Stringfellow said the good-intentioned burning of forest fuel can sometimes lead to trouble.

Related: Grassfire in the South Okanagan serves as reminder to be vigilant

“It’s good to be burning these fuels in early spring but be careful.Make sure it’s not windy you have water nearby. You want to get rid of those fuels at this time of year….You do not want those fuels to still be there in July and August.” Had this grass fire sparked in summer the incident would have unfolded differently, he added.

“Had this same fire occurred during the hotter, dryer season the fire behaviour would have been too dangerous for our members to action and this would have resulted in the request for aerial support from BC Wildfire Service. The focus and action of our firefighters would have then changed form actioning the fire to establishing structure protection for four properties.”

While there have been numerous media reports of grass fires in the past couple weeks, from around the province, Stringfellow said information from BC Wildfire does not suggest this spring is any “dryer” than previous years.

Related: Update: Video of large grass fires near Chase

“It’s something that everybody is concerned about for sure. [But] it’s hard to say whether it’s just at the forefront of everyone’s attention because of the last two fire seasons or whether it’s actually something that is unusual.”

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