When the Lloydminster agricultural area shifts into a high fire hazard as it has earlier this month, that could set off more fire calls to the Britannia Fire Department.
Deputy fire Chief, Aaron Buckingham, said any prevailing summer spell of mainly hot and dry weather is ripe for potentially raising the risk of fire from what he called crossover.
“If the relative humidity drops below the daytime temperature, that boosts your fire risk immediately,” he said
“That’s called crossover.”
Buckingham explained crossover conditions boost the fire risk immediately because fine combustible materials become drier.
For example, the fire weather index, set by the Saskatchewan Wildfire Management branch, showed a wide band of extreme fire conditions to the south on July 6 that Buckingham said was normal with that type of heat.
“It’s not overly concerning,” he said at that time.
A new band of extreme fire danger has set up this week far to the south of Lloydminster, but it could spread north.
“It will be interesting to see what changes with the forecast coming up the way it is,” said Buckingham.
The local area index is currently low, but Environment Canada is forecasting hot and mostly sunny weather this weekend with the possibility for low relative humidity to return.
Buckingham said seeing consecutive days of crossover conditions would bump that index up in our area.
“An extreme fire index could potentially mean a fire ban, but not at this time,” he said unless things change drastically.
Buckingham noted conditions are not as volatile for grass fires in rural areas in July as they were in early spring before consistent rainfall wiped out the threat.
“But certainly when crossover happens, the danger is there,” he said.
He noted at this time of the year, there is the added risk of fires igniting from intense lightning as thunderstorms roll through the region.
“So you’ve got lightning strikes and different things can spark things up,” said Buckingham.
He said the combination of crossover and lightning strikes is what would make a fire risk at this time of the year go a little higher.
He added with the threat of thunderstorms and, it’s anybody’s guess if crossover conditions will occur this week.
“We haven’t had any grass fires or anything weather related in the past few weeks,” said Buckingham.
With no sign of a let up in high temperatures this week, Buckingham said caution is the word of the day especially by people who are out camping or lighting backyard bonfires.
“Always have some type of fire suppression around like a garden hose just in case something happens,” he said.
The fire department took time out for summer fun to display a few of its trucks in the Colonial Days Fair parade, then it was back to business.
“We’re always training and prepared,” said Buckingham who did not lament the wet conditions this spring when grassfires typically set off alarms.
“We don’t want to be out doing those things, it means somebody’s suffering a loss of some sort.”
There has also been no need for the department to conduct any controlled burns this season.
“Things have greened up nicely with all the moisture we’ve had this spring,” he said.
Buckingham said the general risk is normally lower at this time of year than what it is around the May long weekend. depending on the kind of spring we have.
“The drier it is, the most potential there is for trouble,” he cautioned.