Updated: May 6 – Fires break out near Slave Lake, Flatbush

Quickly controlled

Updated May 7 at 10:45 a.m.

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

Warm weather, a strong southeast wind and the month of May are a bad combination. Sure enough, a fire broke out east of Flatbush on May 6, near Range Rd. 270. That’s where MD of LSR Reeve Murray Kerik lives, so we gave him a call.

“It’s about a mile and a half from my house,” he said. “Their putting sprinklers on my neighbour’s house. My wife’s putting her albums in the truck.”

That was at about 4:00 p.m., shortly after news of the fire was posted online by the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service. The fire was getting a lot of attention.

“There’s four fire halls there,” Kerik said. “Helicopters flying and water bombers.”

Kerik said the word was the fire started due to a tree falling on a power line.

Only few minutes after that news came this one, from Leah Lovequist, information officer with the Slave Lake Forest District.

“At this time firefighters, helicopters and an airtanker are responding to a wildfire west of Slave Lake – near Bayer Road.”

That fire, luckily, was mostly confined to the grass in the ditch. Both fires were rated as ‘being held’ that same evening.

According to a wildfire information officer in Edmonton, the fire east of Flatbush was detected at 2:50 p.m. and was about three hectares in size. About four hours later, it was being held, and had grown to 11 hectares. There were no reports of structures being damaged.

Kerik, reached by phone on Friday morning, said the fire did flare up again in the night, but appeared to be under control. It was fortunate, he said, that given its location east of Duck Lake that the wind was pushing it toward the lake, rather than away from it.

Two other fires sparked up in the Slave Lake district on the same day – one on either side of Utikuma Lake. As of Friday morning they were listed as under control. One was a ‘holdover’ fire from a winter burn. Another was caused by a downed power line, Lovequist says. A fire near Driftpile did not even appear on the wildfire status map on Friday morning, meaning it must have been extinguished.

The arrival of cooler, wet weather on Friday was a very welcome development. But warm, dry and windy conditions will certainly return. When they do, “keep your ATV in the barn,” Kerik advises, “and don’t toss any cigarette butts!”

May 6 fire by Hwy. 2 about six km east of Slave Lake. Photo courtesy of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.

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