Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grassfire caused by military

A large grassfire started at CFB Suffield on Monday afternoon was the result of a military operation. “We know our fire was started subsequent to an operation to dispose of a piece of unexplored ordinance,” acting base commander Maj. Hugh Atwell said. “That happened at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon (Monday).” Ammunition fired in a past military exercise — date not known — was discovered unexploded on the Suffield military base. Those need to be disposed of so they are no longer a hazard. This one was near to some oil and gas infrastructure, said Atwell. In general these are blown up, and in this particular case a fire engine was stationed nearby because of the dry conditions. “The crew that was on scene was unable to extinguish the fire that did in fact start when that operation was conducted,” said Atwell, expressing shock about how quickly the fire spread. When the danger of the fire had subsided there was the grim task of attending to animals that had been burned in the blaze, says a farmer in the area. Fences had been cut to allow animals to escape from the fire but still some were affected in a huge community pasture used by five ranchers, said Louise Schlaht on Tuesday. “My husband has culled eight this morning in one spot but there are more. My husband (Ivan) and a neighbour went out,” said Schlaht, explaining the grim task of riding around looking for injured animals. The neighbour is having to shoot the animals that are simply too badly burned. “They are driving along and putting down as they go. They are our lifeline. My husband is going through an awful lot. There will be more.” The home of Morley Sarvis, 89, was destroyed in the fire. Neighbours were concerned in the early hours of Tuesday morning that he had gone to bed early and was not aware of the possibility of fire close to his farm and house. When they could not get his attention they broke the glass on the front door and found him asleep upstairs, said Carol Urn, a rancher in the area. “It was about 15 minutes later the fire hit his place,” said Urn. Sarvis was taken to Schlaht’s home where he remained on Tuesday. “My husband took him over this morning and showed him the place so he can get some idea,” said Louise. “He has lived there his whole life.”...more

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