'We assumed our house was gone': Massive grass fire near Lumsden, Sask. burns 325 hectares

Residents east of Lumsden, Sask., are feeling the terrible effects of a strong grass fire that broke out Thursday night.

Fast-moving grass fire spread across hills and valleys nearby central Saskatchewan community

Tiffany Schaefer lost her four-car garage and its contents to a grass fire near Lumsden in April of this year. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

Residents east of Lumsden, Sask., had to act quickly when a massive grass fire broke out Thursday night. 

Officials don't yet know what caused the blaze that quickly fanned across 325 hectares of hills and valleys, leaving a swath of damage in its wake.

Tiffany Schaefer's Happy Hollow farm and her corn maze were in the path of the flames. 

She said that at first they didn't think the flames were headed toward them. 

"We stood here for half an hour and thought nah, it's not going to make it. But an hour later it was 'Get out now,' " Schaefer said. 

The siding of the Schaefer home melted due to heat from nearby flames. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

The Schaefer's four-car garage was destroyed along with the vehicles, farm equipment and memorabilia stored inside. 

The house survived, but the flames came so close they melted the vinyl siding. The trampoline and other toys in the backyard were burned to a crisp. 

"We assumed our house was gone just from seeing all the black smoke. But the firefighters came and said if they were five minutes later the house for sure would have been gone," she said.

The fire completely destroyed the family's garage and equipment inside. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Schaefer said they're lucky the buildings they use for business in the valley survived the fire, but there is still a lot of uncertainty. 

"Business wise, I'm not sure yet what we're going to do. But we're strong," Schaefer said. 

Animal evacuation

Down the road another family had a close call. 

The Glen farm is home to 15 horses which needed to be evacuated as the flames approached the farmyard's edges. 

"They're like family. Everyone here loves our horses, so it was our priority," said resident Madison Glen. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

Farm manager Shelbie O'Connell said she first saw smoke around 4 p.m. CST, but wasn't worried about it at first.   

"Then a couple drove in and asked me if I noticed what was coming, and I looked over and it was like three times the size already," O'Connell said.

"Panic started to set in." 

Madison Glen and farm manager Shelbie O'Connell said they quickly moved to evacuate their horses when they saw how close the flames were getting. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

The Glen's started to evacuate the horses as soon as they realized how close the fire was coming. 

"We're just really lucky. Everyone in Lumsden could not have been more helpful or better. Everybody we knew was here in an instant," said Madison Glen. 

Glen said it's the first time they've seen flames so close to their home. They lost some hay fields, but the home and barns were saved. 

Flare-ups continue

A firefighter battles a flare-up Friday morning at the site of a grass fire near Lumsden, Sask. (Micki Cowan/CBC)

Friday morning, parts of the charred grass near the Glen home lit up again. 

Firefighters quickly came to the scene and doused the flames.

Crews say it could take a rainfall before the flare-ups stop. 


Micki Cowan


Micki is a reporter and producer at CBC Vancouver. Her passions are municipal issues and water security.