'It's crispy dry': Sweeping grass fire chars Lumsden Valley

Firefighters battled an 800 acre blaze which tore through the Lumsden Valley on Thursday.

Thursday's blaze burned for several hours in the area

The fire that swept through the Lumsden Valley on Thursday night charred these trees. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

 Firefighters were kept busy into the night as they battled a blaze which tore through the dry Lumsden Valley on Thursday.

The massive blaze burned about 800 acres of land, according to the Chief of the Lumsden Fire Department.

"That was definitely a big one," said Chief Jeff Carey, a fire department veteran of 25 years.

The volunteer fire department was dispatched just after 4 p.m. CST, and Carey said the conditions were telling of what was to come.

"It's what we call a cross over, where the humidity is lower than the temperature, so we knew conditions would not be good," he said.
Fire crew battled grass fires in the valley on Thursday night. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

The fire was intense, he said, because of the extremely dry grass and the howling winds that fuelled the fire.

Furthermore, it was burning near several acreages and the landscape made some areas inaccessible. 

Carey said a garage was lost, along with a few sheds. He said the siding was melted on one building but it could have been worse.
On Friday, the Lumsden Fire Department began to clean up while also patrolling the area in order to keep an eye on smouldering hot spots that could flare up again. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

"It was pretty close, it was close to being a loss."

The Lumsden Fire Department was assisted by crews from Regina and Craven, as well as locals and passersby. Carey said the turnout was incredible.

"I couldn't even guess a number of how many stopped," he said.

The extra help from civilians was particularly important to the firefighters.

"It allows them to maybe take a second and get a rest, when they know there's some local volunteers that have come to help out, and they can catch a breath."
The heat of the fire melted the siding on one home in the area. The chief of the Lumsden Fire Department said at one point on Thursday at least six homes were threatened by fire. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Everyone seemed to pitch in, said Florence Ziegler, who is the co-owner of 3 Flags Motorsports Park. 

"There were neighbours helping everywhere. People were bringing in trailers from all over the place," she said, adding site management showed up with two tanker trucks and members of the nearby Hutterite colony brought a tanker of their own.

"Out here where we are, we don't have water. We have wells, so we pump, we bring water in."

People helped each other create fire breaks and protect farm animals. 

"We did what we could," she said.
Firefighters from three departments and locals helped tame the flames threatened homes as it burned through the Lumsden Valley. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

Ziegler had never seen a fire like this during her decade spent in the area, and was amazed it happened at this time of year. 

"Here we are in spring, which should be our wettest season from the snow melt and it's so dry it sets a grass fire." 
Chief Jeff Carey of the Lumsden Fire Department said this fire was tough to fight because of the location — some areas inaccessible due to the landscape of the valley. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

The fire was brought under control about seven hours after crews were dispatched. Carey said the department is always prepared, but noted the dry weather could mean more fire in the future. 

"We had snow a week ago and even in shaded bush areas it's crispy dry so we do need some moisture." 
Smoke lingered in the Lumsden Valley on Thursday night. (Glenn Reid/CBC)

No injuries have been reported and the cause is still unknown. 

The large grass fire isn't the first of the season. Last Sunday, crews responded to a fire near the Wascana Valley Trails. 

It took firefighters about two and a half hours to control the fire, which eventually burned  about 12 hectares of grassland, or 25 to 30 acres.