Cloverdale fire still presents risk, fire chief says

Fire Chief Kris Olsen speaks to the media just inside Prince Albert city limits on Thursday, May 20. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Just because the Cloverdale fire has calmed down doesn’t mean it’s completely extinguished and can’t flare back up, Fire Chief Kris Olsen said Tuesday.

The fire burned through the underbrush, but didn’t spread into the crowns or treetops of all areas. The risk is it could still be smouldering in some areas, waiting for hot, dry weather and winds to stir it up again.

Olsen said his crews will continue to monitor the fire. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) is using drones to identify hotspots.

Olsen said the city department is aware of the hotspots in its jurisdiction, and spent most of the weekend trying to extinguish some of them.

“There are still a lot of available fuels,” Olsen said, pointing to a tree stand that was virtually untouched, while one close by was mostly gone.

“The fire doesn’t always consume all of the fuels. You still have to be careful.”

Olsen said the city fire department will regularly monitor the area and keep tabs on some hotspots throughout the summer. They were helped, though, by the weekend’s rain, which Olsen estimated to be over an inch.

“It was welcomed,” he said.

The investigation into the fire’s cause is still ongoing. Olsen wouldn’t comment on speculation that the fire was human caused. He did say that the investigation team, which consists of provincial, city and RM officials, had narrowed down a general area believed to be the origin.

That area, Olsen said, is just north of the Birch Lane area.

He said the department will notify the public of their findings once the investigation is complete.