By Marcia Love
Extreme fire hazards have meant fire bans across the Prairies, but so far the Maple Creek area hasn’t had to take any measures.
Late last week, the province put a fire ban in place in northern Saskatchewan due to extreme wildfire hazards. A ban was issued on all open fires for all provincial forests, and for all provincial parks and recreation sites located within those forests.
With no significant rainfall in those areas since the snow melted, conditions are extremely dry. Fire bans are also in place in many of the rural municipalities in that area.
Earlier this week, there were over 20 active fires in the north, including one that burned about 1,500 acres near Black Lake.
While there have been close to 200 wildfires in the province so far this year, there was only about half that number this time last year.
So far there are no bans or restrictions in place in the RM of Maple Creek or at Cypress Hills Park, but that could change quickly as the conditions are monitored on a daily basis. The fire risk is high at the park, but officials report they are not yet to the point where a fire ban would be put in place.
“If we don’t get any rain soon, conditions will worsen,” said park manager Brant Seifert. He noted some campgrounds and backcountry trails may be closed as a precaution before a full fire ban is called.
In Alberta, the provincial government applied to invoke a fire ban in all of its forests, which was enforced on Monday. This prohibits open fires, including campfires in campgrounds and backcountry camping areas.
While the Alberta side of Cypress Hills Park isn’t covered under the ban, officials there say a ban is expected to be invoked by the weekend.
Since April, about 630 wildfires have been reported across Alberta, burning about 32,400 acres.