“Definitely the wind conditions,” said Fire Chief Tobias Hovey, regarding the problems his people faced in trying to extinguish a fire Tuesday (May 12) that got into a stubbled field of leftover dry stalks from last year’s corn harvest.
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Un feu dans les champs de maïs
The corn field is located along County Road 8 near Casselman. Cause of the fire is believed the result of a small debris fire of branches from a yard cleanup, with sparks or embers blowing away and into the neighbouring corn field which then ignited.
Fire fighters were called to the scene at 11 a.m. but did not leave the site until close to 3:30 p.m., as the combination of strong winds blowing from the west and northwest, and the dry, combustible stubble made it difficult to get control of the fire right away. About 40 acres of the field burned by the time they got the fire extinguished and finished checking the site for “hot spots.”
At one point, Chief Hovey noted the fire “jumped” a section of fire hose and continued burning on the other side. About 1000 feet of hose was damaged and will need replacing.
Chief Hovey noted that the fire department had other calls during the past two weeks of yard cleanup fires which got out of control. The Nation Municipality does not have a spring fire ban in place as some municipalities do, but there are directions on the community website for homeowners doing spring yard cleanup about using burn barrels or other means for a controlled fire to get rid of branches and other yard waste.
Homeowners are also urged to avoid lighting a debris fire during windy conditions, and to have a water hose handy along with a rake and shovel to extinguish the debris fire when they are finished.
“Be careful of the conditions,” said Chief Hovey, “and use good judgment.”