ARKELL – Several people called 911 the evening of May 31 to report grass fires along the train tracks through Arkell.
Puslinch interim fire chief Brad Bigrigg said the fires were concentrated along the tracks at Carter Road near Arkell, and Hume Road just south of there.
“We called Guelph/Eramosa fire department. They brought a tanker and helped with manpower,” Bigrigg said, adding that between the two departments, about 30 firefighters were on scene from around 8pm to 10pm.
“We had the advantage of having 10 new recruits come as well,” Bigrigg added.
“They were able to engage in some manual parts of clean-up.”
Bigrigg said there were actually two separate fires by the Carter Road crossing and “multiple fires” at Hume Road.
Some of these had spread to trees in the area but they were all extinguished pretty quickly.
“People reported grass fires, trees on fire, all sorts of things. And depending on where you were, they were all true,” said Bigrigg.
“I’m sure it was scary for residents. Because of the rain last week, it was not fast spreading here. But there was quite a bit of dry under the green grass.”
Bigrigg can’t say definitively what caused the fire.
“A lot of people assume it was the train and a train did go by. But there were off-road vehicles in the vicinity as well,” he said.
“Nobody can tell me they saw the train and sparking so I can’t make that assumption.”
Bigrigg took the opportunity to remind those who ride ATVs, Gators and dirt bikes along railway lines to be mindful of a hot muffler.
“Those can be an ignition source,” he said, adding that while that’s not necessarily what happened in this case, it’s still good advice.