Canora Fire Chief talks about rapid spread of wildfire

The cause of the fire is suspicious and under investigation

It took the work of multiple fire departments to get the wildfire outside of Burgis Beach and Sandy Beach, south of Canora under control. 


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Devon Sawka, Fire Chief of the Canora Fire Department said that at one point twelve engines were on the scene, tankers included, and they had exhausted their water supply. 


Canora, Rhein, Ebenezer and Sturgis fire departments were on the scene for the majority of the fire, and Yorkton’s department was on scene for about ten hours as well. Sawka said that getting a helicopter on the scene gave them the edge to get the fire out.


“I want to say a huge thank you to all fire departments involved. Everybody worked very hard, and it showed. We had close to 4,000 acres burned, and no property of value was lost besides the ski shack. That shows how hard these guys worked, and I can’t thank all of the departments involved enough, and I can’t thank the people who donated and sponsored and helped us out enough. It’s phenomenal how everyone came together.”


Sawka said that they got the call at around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, about a grass fire moving towards the park. They were only a mile away, about to start a training exercise, when they got the call.


“We set the radio off that we needed all members because it was taking off through the field with the wind. We chased it, and it jumped the ravine, got into the park, and the rest is history.”


The wind spread the fire quickly, and Sawka said they watched the fire move 500 yards in five minutes.


While there was minimal property damage, Sawka said it got close, both to cabins and to a propane tank. They patrolled the cabins watching for spot fires, and described one scene where they had to protect a cabin.


“The tree started on fire, so we had to cut the tree down and soak the cabin with foam just to keep the heat away from the cabin and stop the cabin from starting on fire.”


There is now a fire ban through the entire coverage area for the Canora Fire Department. That means the R.M. of Sliding Hills, R.M. of Good Lake and R.M. of Keys. 


“Right now, until we get some moisture, the fire can do whatever it wants. There’s really no way to control it once it gets to these crossovers. The conditions are perfect for fire.”


The department is still on the scene, watching for spot fires.


“Crossover can happen at any time for us.”


The cause of the fire is suspicious, and it is under investigation.

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