Saskatoon

Forest fire burning in Sask.'s Duck Mountain Provincial Park largest since 1886: park manager

It has been 134 years since Saskatchewan's Duck Mountain Provincial Park saw a forest fire the size of the one it has had in recent days, according to the park manager.

Park manager says fire was started after high winds blew a tree onto a power line

A forest fire burns in the south end of Saskatchewan's Duck Mountain Provincial Park, approximately two kilometres west of the park's ski area. (Duck Mountain Provincial Park)

A very rare event has been taking place in Saskatchewan's Duck Mountain Provincial Park in recent days.

Park manager Greg Podovinnikoff said a 10-hectare forest fire burning there is the biggest in more than a century.

The blaze was first reported early Sunday afternoon. Podovinnikoff said high winds in the area at the time blew a large spruce tree onto a power line, which ignited the fire.

"We have very dry conditions," he said. "We basically only had a half an inch of rain (12 millimetres) since the snow has melted."

He said a forest ecologist told him the last fire of this size in the park, which is located 250 kilometres northeast of Regina, was in 1886.

"I'm serious. We very seldom have fires out here," he said. "We're mostly an aspen forest. So if we have sufficient enough rain it very seldom will ever get the conditions where fires are prevalent."

Flames from a forest fire are seen through the trees in the south end of Saskatchewan's Duck Mountain Provincial Park. (Rhein Fire Department/Facebook)

The fire is in the south end of the park, about two kilometres west of the Duck Mountain ski area, he said. The ski hill is 2.5 kilometres west of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary.

The fire is about eight to 10 kilometres away from any cottage subdivision and no structures have been lost, he said.

Podovinnikoff said a provincial wildfire management helicopter equipped with a water bucket made a significant impact on the fire on Monday.

"This was in a fairly remote area," he said. "So all the access was by all-terrain vehicles. So when we started fighting this fire on Sunday, it was mostly done by backpacks and shovels and axes."

Steve Roberts, the acting vice-president of operations for the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, said Tuesday that the fire is now considered contained.

"It wasn't this morning," he said. "They've now been able to get some lines around that and they're listing it as contained as of this afternoon."

The forest fire in Duck Mountain Provincial Park was declared contained on Tuesday. (Duck Mountain Provincial Park)

Roberts said there are still high to extreme fire hazards in the southern half of the province and people have to be especially careful with fire this time of the spring.

"As much as we're seeing fire behaviour in the south, it's because we have those dry conditions so people still have to remind themselves to be cautious," he said.

Due to the extreme fire hazards, all open fires are currently prohibited in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.

About the Author

Kelly Provost is a newsreader and reporter with CBC News in Saskatoon. Email him at kelly.provost@cbc.ca.

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