Manitoba

'It's tinder dry out here': Wildfire threatens ranch near Falcon Beach

A wildfire threatened a ranch in the Whiteshell area Monday afternoon but water bombers have it under control. 

Water bombers got fire under control by 3:30 p.m.

A water bomber fills up on Falcon Lake before battling a wildfire near Falcon Beach Ranch Monday, May 20, 2019. (Submitted by Andy Cumming)

A wildfire threatened a ranch in the Whiteshell area Monday afternoon but water bombers have it under control. 

The blaze broke out around 2:30 p.m. near the Falcon Beach Ranch. 

"Everyone saw it at the same time billowing up out of the forest, just north of our place," said ranch owner Devin Imrie over the phone from Falcon Lake later in the day Sunday.

"It was definitely very close … there was some tense moments for sure, it was a stressful day." 

Southeast Whiteshell Fire and Rescue Service Chief Bruce Morrison said the cause of the wildfire isn't clear. What is clear is that it started quickly, between the pipeline and a hiking trail. 

Watch water bombers gather supplies to fight the blaze:

"It started growing quite rapidly, because it's still tinder dry out here," he said.

They were prepared to defend the ranch, but Morrison said he called the provincial Wildfire Program in Lac du Bonnet, which sent water bombers. With their help, by 3:30 p.m. the fire was under control. No structures were damaged. 

"And it all turned out well," he said. Wildfire crews remain on scene to address any hot spots, he said. 

Crews respond quickly

Imrie was taking guests on a trail ride when he got a call warning him about the encroaching fire.

He rushed back to the ranch and says he was relieved to find crews from the local volunteer fire department already on the scene installing sprinklers to protect buildings on the ranch.

At its worst, Imrie estimates the fire was as close as 700 metres from his property.

Watch fire crews protect Falcon Beach Ranch:

"If it had been a windier day it could have been a much different story, but the wind was kind of in a safe direction and so the local fire crew, the volunteer fire department here, was on the scene super quickly," he said.

"It was pretty clear once the water bombers showed up that they were going to be able to handle it fairly well."

A spokesperson for the province said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

It's the second wildfire in the area this week; the first was near Ingolf, Ont. on May 14. Southeast Whiteshell Fire Department crews and Manitoba water bombers assisted, he said. 

Morrison says it could be a bad year for wildfires. 

"Everything's starting to green up a bit, but if you walk anywhere in the bush, the ground is still crunching under your feet. So we need a lot more rain yet," he said. "If we don't see significant rain, it could be ... a dry one." 

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