There were some anxious moments at the Red Pheasant First Nation on Tuesday as a prairie fire backed by hurricane force winds raced towards the community. Luckily for the community of nearly 600, Mother Nature intervened and there were no injuries or property damage.
Chief Clinton Wuttunee said from what he has heard from residents, the First Nation narrowly escaped disaster.
“I have been convalescing after surgery last week so I have not had a chance to travel to the actual front lines of the fire,” said Wuttunee. “My team has been keeping me well informed off the situation and I know we were very fortunate with this prairie fire.”
The fire started early Tuesday evening and thanks to the efforts of many community members and volunteers from nearby Mosquito First Nation, potential disaster was avoided and the fire was contained at approximately 1 a.m.
“We had a lot of volunteers on hand to help keep the blaze at bay,” the Chief added. “Residents carried water in pales by hand and soaked the houses so if in fact the fire came close we could save them.”
Gusting winds of up to 90 km/h caused the grass fire to move quickly towards the First Nation but according to Wuttunee, the winds shifted and homes were spared.
“The fire was coming towards some homes on the north side of Red Pheasant but luckily the wind shifted,” Wuttunee added. “That basically kept the fire in the bush and the fields near the center of the community.”
Wuttunee said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation as Battlefords RCMP were on the scene Tuesday night.
“I have spoken to Inspector John Sutherland and it still too early to speculate on how the fire was started,” Wuttunee said. “I am expecting to be updated as soon as progress is made.”
Officials remained on the scene for most of Wednesday morning to ensure any potential hotspots would not flare up.
The First Nation is located approximately 50 kilometres south of North Battleford.
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