CANMORE – Local firefighters quickly got to the root of a forest fire that occurred in Cairns on the Bow neighbourhood in Canmore on Sunday (March 3).
The small outdoor fire was reported by a resident passing by when he noticed flames and a smoldering stump in the wooded area in the gated community along the Three Sisters Parkway around 1 p.m.
“It was at the base of a tree and the challenge we had was to stretch out about 250 to 300 feet of hose. We used the front line engine to get as close as we could ... and took care of it,” Fire Chief Walter Gahler said. “There was no damage to any structures.”
While the official cause is unknown, the fire chief said they suspect it was residue of a mountain beetle burn pit as the contractor was nearby.
“There was a contractor in the area, but when Fire responded, [we] just knocked it out for the time being,” Gahler said. “But there was no threat to the area.”
The Town of Canmore launched the mountain pine beetle program on Jan. 9, taking infested trees on, or near private property, or on town reserve, to be felled and burned on site, or moved to a burn pit. Town officials are asking the public to stay clear of any active tree removal or burn sites for safety reasons.
“You may have noticed little spot fires here and there ... contractors come in and manage a small burn taking out mountain pine beetle trees,” Gahler said.
Residents and visitors may be noticing more smoke than usual between the beetle tree burn and the current FireSmart reduction program where contractors are also removing dead or down trees to reduce the fire load in an area.
“The safest thing is to call 911, but if folks have the opportunity to see where the smoke is coming from and feels it is a controlled environment without a building, or structure involved, a call to the Town during business hours is a great place to start, or the fire department,” Gahler said.
The municipality and Canmore Fire-Rescue have active lists of where the controlled burns are taking place and Gahler noted that even if it was a high likelihood a call was a controlled burn, the fire department would still send out a team to investigate in a non-emergency manner.
“We don’t mind the 911 call at all, but if the person just sees smoke rather than just calling, if it is possible to identify the area and maybe a sense of where it is, phone the fire department or the Town and we can narrow it down potentially,” Gahler said.
If you have questions about the controlled burns, contact the Town of Canmore Parks Department at 403-678-1590 or 403-678-1599, or call the Fire Department non-emergency line at 403-678-6199.