Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The past weekend was a busy one for local Fire Departments as they battled a wildland fire south of the One Arrow First Nation sports grounds located on the south side of Highway 312 near the Gabriel Bridge.
The fire burned in the brush and trees along the top of the riverbank which undoubtedly complicated efforts to bring the fire under control as there was much standing and fallen deadfall.
The Wakaw Fire Department under the command of the new Fire Chief Larry Baker, operated as the Command Unit with support from neighbouring departments who partnered in a mutual aid agreement. Equipment and personnel from the Cudworth and Wakaw Fire Departments both automatically responded with their wildland units and tankers, and Chief Baker called in support from the St. Louis Fire Department to ensure there was an adequate supply of water.
The One Arrow First Nation Fire Department also attended and Chief Baker said he truly appreciated their help as they were very competent and well acquainted with the terrain even though it was outside the First Nation lands.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency Emergency Response Team attended the fire and provided their expertise. Chief Baker sectioned the fire into four quadrants and assigned each of the crews to a sector that allowed them to contain it and push it toward the riverbank.
A bulldozer was brought in by the RM of Fish Creek to create a fire break to keep the fire from spreading and through the combined effort of all the fire was brought under control by nightfall. As there were no structures in danger, the area was soaked down and the crews returned to their respective fire halls.
On Sunday, Chief Baker returned to the scene first thing in the morning, and all seemed just as it had been the evening before. However, on Sunday afternoon the fire was noticed to have rekindled, and a passerby called in a report that the fire was actively burning again.
Chief Baker said that he had just been preparing to go and check it again since the temperature had climbed to 30 degrees and the wind had picked up. The fire departments were called back into action from Wakaw, Cudworth, St. Louis, and One Arrow First Nation. The bulldozer used Saturday was still on site and was utilized again to create another fire break.
Even with the rain the area has received lately, there is still a great deal of dry fuel in the form of dead grass and weeds and the autumn leaves that have already fallen. The crews worked together and held the fire to the area where it had started up again and it was quickly brought under control and extinguished.