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Fire crews shut down part of Highway 18 due to wildland fire on Sunday

Wildland fire west of Estevan by Highway 18 knocked down some fire poles on Sunday
Fire truck estevan
Members of the Estevan Fire Rescue Service and SaskPower crews were called to a back alley fire in the 400-block of First Street on Saturday.

ESTEVAN - Estevan fire crews had several calls at the end of last week.

The most serious call came in on Sunday afternoon when fire crews responded to a large wildland fire occurring just outside of the city limits, about a kilometre west of Highway 47 on Highway 18.

"It was actually threatening some structures, some SaskPower assets, some SaskWater assets and buildings, as well as possibly a neighbouring property to the north with livestock, and also the wastewater treatment plant south. Horses were being gathered up by the property owner just in case he had to evacuate the property," said Estevan Fire Chief Dale Feser.

Fortunately, crews were able to quickly bring the fire under control and extinguish it. However, due to zero visibility, for their safety, they had to shut down part of Highway 18 to prevent any accidents.

"We thank the RCMP and the Estevan city police for assisting in traffic control measures," Feser said.

SaskPower crews also arrived on scene. Some of their support structures suffered significant damage. Traffic was completely blocked off on Collins Road overnight, allowing SaskPower crews to replace the damaged fire poles.

Feser noted that there was a power outage outside of the city limits.

"I'm thanking SaskPower crews for getting that back up and running as soon as they could, as they worked right through the night in order to restore power and replace those poles," Feser said.

He added that SaskPower crews had to pull firefighters back for safety issues as the power line did fail and there were powerlines on the ground towards the end of the operation.

The cause of the fire is currently undetermined.

Firefighters spent about five hours on the scene. They also did perimeter control and ensured no hot spots remained in the area.

Feser reiterated that the Estevan area has witnessed an extreme fire danger index for about a week now, and if that doesn't change, they may consider issuing fire bans soon. In the meantime, he asked the public to be extremely cautious if burning anything.

"If you want to burn flax straw or sloughs, make sure it is not going to be windy, preferably 20-25 kilometres per hour and below for wind speeds. Make sure that you have some equipment handy and ready just to make sure that you can try to contain the fire shooting in a way on you," Feser said, adding that any controlled burn has to be reported to the provincial controlled burn line.

On Saturday at about 6:30 a.m., fire crews were dispatched to what was initially reported as a garage fire occurring in the south-central part of Estevan. It was quickly updated as a shed fire.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a garden shed fully engulfed in flames. A ground fire around it was spreading, extending to and going up a nearby power pole.

"We were able to quickly knock down the shed fire and deploy a fire extinguisher to extinguish the bulk of the fire on the power pole until SaskPower crews could arrive on scene to isolate the power and ensure complete extinguishment of this particular fire," said Feser.

"Damage was kept to the property, there is some … damage to a neighbouring garage. But nobody was hurt in this particular incident."

The fire was deemed suspicious in nature and is being investigated alongside garbage bin fires that occurred last week on Seventh and Valley Streets. So far there have been five incidents that are deemed suspicious.

"We're asking all the residents of the city, if you see any suspicious individuals or have any information in leading to these garbage bin fires or shed fire, please contact the city police service. If you have any … surveillance or security cameras (in the area), any footage can be beneficial," Feser said.

The fires were occurring in later hours or at night in the south-central part of the city.

"It is definitely unlawful to start fires with the nefarious nature behind them," Feser said.

On Friday at about 2:30 p.m., fire crews were called to a commercial fire alarm going off in Benson. Prior to dispatching to a distant location, the fire station was able, through dispatchers, to contact the monitoring agency that confirmed the occupants of the building were changing a battery in the smoke alarm, which set it off so there was no emergency occurring, and crews immediately stood down.

Another alarm went off on Saturday at about 5:30 p.m. in a house south of the city. It quickly was found that residents were changing the batteries in a monitored smoke alarm system, so crews were stood down and returned to the station.

Feser reminded the public that anytime any work is done to the monitored alarm system, owners should contact the monitoring agency to prevent any unnecessary calls for the fire department.

On Sunday at about 7:30 a.m., a commercial fire alarm went off in a building in the central-west area of Estevan. Crews arrived on scene to find that maintenance staff was working in the area, and they had a shop vacuum cleaner bag that broke and the dust mimicked smoke, setting off the fire alarm system. With no emergency occurring, firefighters returned to the station and returned to service.