SOUTHERN ALBERTA: A provincial spokesperson is downplaying media reports about the possible cause of one of the fires that sparked due to high winds and dry conditions in Southern Alberta on Sunday. His comments come after Blood reserve resident Addison Crow Spreads His Wings told several media outlets, including Country 95 News, that the embers used to heat rocks during a traditional sweat lodge ceremony may have caused the fire which jumped the Oldman River led to the loss of two homes on the Blood reserve, and the evacuation of about 125 people from the County of Lethbridge.
"For us, doing a sweat is like going to church," Crow Spreads His Wings told Country 95 News. "There was no criminal intent."
The County of Lethbridge and the Blood Tribe have asked the Alberta Fire Commissioner's Office to do a separate investigation, the results of which are expected by the middle of next week. Until the findings of that investigation are released, Alberta Municipal Affairs spokesperson Parker Hogan told Country 95 News all other reports are considered "speculation."
"For now, that's just a story. We will wait until we hear from the County and the Blood Tribe as to what the findings were from the investigation and until that time, everything else is speculative," said Parker. His office is waiting for the results of the report, which is being conducted by trained fire investigators. But he added the Alberta Fire Commissioner will release that report first to the Blood Tribe and the County, and it will be up to officials there whether or not to share the findings with the public.
Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services Chief Brian Cornforth told Country 95 News weather conditions with 130 kilometre an hour peak winds helped spark and spread several fires in southwestern Alberta Sunday. According to officials who surveyed the area west of Lethbridge, the fire that began on the Blood reserve burned about 600 acres within the County of Lethbridge and 123 acres within the City of Lethbridge. County of Warner officials are still assessing the full extent of damages from fires in that area the same day.
There are reports of property owners who lost outbuildings, corrals, fences and even cattle during the blazes Sunday - but there is little official information about specific losses. Country 95 News is continuing coverage of the aftermath. If you or someone you know lost property in any of Sunday's fires, please contact Country 95 News at 403.329.6397 or firstname.lastname@example.org.