A grass fire turned into a race against wind and flames to save houses on the Standing Buffalo First Nation north of Fort Qu’Appelle.
By the time the fire was brought under control, five homes had been destroyed.
Fortunately, only one of the houses that burned down had someone living in it at the time.
Chief Roger Redman said he first got a call about the fire around 2:30 p.m. when it began to threaten his brother’s house. They saved that house then rushed to knock on doors and move livestock in the path of the fire.
Redman said he was unsure about the cause of the fire.
He credited the group effort between the Fort Qu’Appelle and Lipton Fire Departments along with Standing Buffalo’s own volunteer firefighters and band members for saving as much as they could.
“We had some neighbouring farmers that were using their farm equipment to try to create some barriers between the fire and the (homes) so it wouldn’t spread, but the wind was blowing pretty strong so it was jumping the barriers and like I said, we were very fortunate that we didn’t lose any lives,” Redman said.
Although the fire burned five houses, a garage and a car, the chief said it could have been a lot worse.
“There were so many close calls like we had fires that were literally burning beside homes so we could have easily lost 10 units and five people living in those houses,” Redman said.
He said some of the people who stayed to help are traumatized by their experience.
“It’s quite the thing when you’ve got a wall of flame coming at you and you can’t see and it’s the smoke and the heat,” the chief described.
As the fire was raging police officers had to help evacuate several people who didn’t want to leave their homes at first.
“You don’t realize how much danger you are (in) until it’s knocking on your door right at your doorstep and that’s what happened,” Redman said.
“We’re very lucky that we didn’t lose any lives. Property can be replaced but people can’t.”
Standing Buffalo wasn’t the only community dealing with raging grass fires over the weekend.
There were also some reports of another grass fire on Sakimay First Nation along the south side of Crooked Lake.
A grass fire broke out in the RM of Corman Park Saturday. The fire burned one home but firefighters were able to save two others. Another fire burned dangerously close to homes just west of Clavet on Sunday afternoon.
As of Friday, there had already been 72 fires across the province, which is well above the five-year average of about 40.
Editor’s note: Officials have not yet confirmed what caused the blaze. The story has been corrected accordingly.