STANDOFF, AB – A large grass fire which tore through parts of the Blood Reserve near the St. Mary Reservoir Sunday now has a cause.

Fire officials in Standoff have determined the blaze was the result of sweat lodge. During the height of the wind storm, gusts on the Blood Reserve were clocked at 111 km/h.

Blood Tribe Fire Chief, Jacen Abrey received a call just after noon Sunday (Mar. 28) about a grass fire near Highway 509. With the strong wind, it quickly spread and eventually took out 15,000 acres of land stretching over 28 kilometres wide.

Fire crews from Coaldale, Raymond and Magrath as well as local Hutterite colonies pitched in to help out. Over 30 fire fighters from the Blood Tribe fought the flames as well, working the scene for more than 12 hours using five fire trucks.

Equipment operators running tractors with discs managed to create a fireguard to help contain the blaze from spreading.

Tribe officials say the sweat lodge was taking place near Highway 509 when the wind picked up. No one was injured.