Hot times in the city

Grass fires could be common occurrence if dry spring conditions persist, say regional fire officials

A lack of April showers has brought grass fires instead of flowers as sparks are flying in some of the drier areas of Greater Trail.

On Sunday afternoon a train running between Annable and Teck Trail Operations set off a series of six grass fires, a combination of the dry spring conditions and sparks flying off the metal-on-metal wheels of the train.

Although there is some concern from fire officials on the possibility it could occur again as the tinder dry vegetation alongside the area’s rail lines has not yet greened up, there isn’t much that can be done to prepare in advance, said Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue regional fire chief Terry Martin.

“Fires from trains are not an uncommon thing from the brake systems; it does happen,” he said. “But that was pretty extreme that we would have that many (fires) in such a small area at the same time.”

The department went out and examined the scene Tuesday morning and found no evidence of wrongdoing, or obvious cause of the fire, however, they continue to speculate the train’s wheels caused the fires.

“And when things green up, right away your chance of fire lessens,” said deputy regional fire chief Dan Derby.

Martin admitted there is some concern for later in the year when the heat and dry conditions of late August descend on the area. He said they haven’t had a synopsis of the weather from the Provincial Emergency Program for later in the year.

“Mother Nature controls all of that,” he said. “We just have to be ready.”