News

Corn stubble burns near Greenwood Cemetery

Monte Sonnenberg

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Norfolk County has issued a ban on open air fires due to dry conditions in the area. This spring firefighters battled a blaze in a field of corn near Waterford. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer file photo)

Norfolk County has issued a ban on open air fires due to dry conditions in the area. This spring firefighters battled a blaze in a field of corn near Waterford. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer file photo)

WATERFORD - 

Wildfires aren’t just a problem out west.

They can erupt anywhere where conditions are dry and fuel is sufficient to maintain a flame.

Norfolk received confirmation Monday that this spring has turned into a dry one with wildfires near Nixon and in Waterford.

The blaze in Waterford occurred in 25 acres of corn stubble on the north and east side of Greenwood Cemetery off Duncombe Road. Intense at times, the fire was pushed along by stiff winds out of the west.

Scott Pipe, a fire prevention officer with Norfolk Fire & Rescue, said the Waterford fire was among the worst of its kind he has seen in his years as a firefighter.

“The wind is helping the fire more than it is helping us,” he said at the scene.

Fortunately for Waterford, the fire happened on the east side of town. The wind blew it into the countryside in the direction of Townsend Centre. There were no reports of injury or property damage.

The situation could have been different if the fire had broken out on the west side of town. Had that happened, an evacuation on the basis of smoke alone could’ve been a possibility.

The fire in Waterford was called in shortly before 1 p.m. It was finally out at 3:30 p.m. Firefighters from Waterford, Simcoe and Courtland responded. Helping the effort were two mobile Ranger vehicles with water-spraying capacity.

Prior to the alarm in Waterford, Norfolk firefighters responded to a brush fire in a ditch near Nixon. The suspected cause there is careless disposal of a cigarette.

The fires confirm for Norfolk Fire & Rescue that this is shaping up to be a dry spring. Fires of this sort have been common in recent years in April with the melting and evaporation of the winter snowpack.

In light of Monday’s fires, Norfolk Fire & Rescue issued a warning that property owners need to be careful with the setting of brush and rubbish fires. Under current conditions, a small, harmless-looking fire can erupt into something more menacing in no time at all.

“We are in dry conditions right now,” Pipe said. “Just because you see green on the ground doesn’t mean there isn’t dry material there.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com