Ward one Councillor for the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie Garth Asham attended a meeting held to spread awareness of fire prevention. He notes it took place after some concerning incidents. 

"St. Ambrose, in the marshy area, had two fires nearby, but it wasn't in our municipality. We've had one fire that's a concern out there. This meeting was for the prevention and awareness of the local people to help us out, if we can put a stop to this. We don't know what the causes of the fire were, but we can nip it in the bud if we're vigilant and we help each other out."

He notes this involves a cooperation between the RCMP and fire department and municipality. He shares the highlights of the meeting.

"We had a great speaker from the Fire Prevention of Manitoba. Jeff Irwin spoke and brought up the the wildfires that were out in Fort McMurray and showed people a little bit of a video. It showed people what can be done to their residences and what people can do to prevent possible ignition around their yards, houses. In Fort McMurray, it was total devastation and we don't want that in our community."

Asham says the response was good although they  would have liked to have seen more people come out. However, he adds, word of mouth spreads fast and people talk, as well.

"When there's a presence of the fire department in the area and the RCMP, and people who look out for one another, that's what a neighbourhood or a community is all about; looking out for each other and and trying to prevent tragedy. Right now, we're getting this rain, which is very, very nice for the prevention of fires, but at the same time, the marsh is very, very dry. And those reeds, once they catch on fire, and just the debris around your house that you may not maintain, it can also catch fire. Fire can start from a lot of different ignition points: lightning, careless smoking, RTV's out in the marsh -- their exhaust gets hot. There may be no ill intent, but it still happens. Accidents happen." 

FIREMarch 22, 2024, fire

He explains it's the time of year when everyone wants to ride outside in the fields, noting there are not mosquitoes yet, however, the RM is encouraging people to be more aware of how ignition works and how it can start.

"Everybody should know that there are some programs out there to encourage people to maintain their yards a little better and maintain the awareness of other people in the community. We encourage people that we don't want devastation in the community. When the fire department has to go out, we want them to be available to call right away and say, 'You know, I've got a little fire, but it could turn into a large fire.'"

Asham says the recent fire the led to the urgency of spreading the word occurred in the West Marsh, between Delta and St. Ambroise. 

"It was closer to the proximity of Saint Ambroise. We don't know how it started and we're not looking for negligence right away. It could have been lightning. It could have been lots of different things. Then there was another fire in the Woodlands Municipality, over in the east marsh. So, those two fires are kind of suspect, but when things are dry like this, it can happen." 

Asham adds be careful and keep an eye out and be very vigilant as to how you're controlling your fire if you're burning grass and anything else. 

"We would prefer they don't do it when it's dry, but you can't stop everybody all of the time."