Portager remembers man who died in grass fire 0
QMI Agency... A grass fire near Southport claimed the life of 78-year-old John Froese on Thursday.
He was a good man, very friendly and always liked to share what was on his mind.
Ray Willms, a pastor at Portage Alliance Church, said he was shocked when he heard what happened to John Froese, who died while trying to put out a grass fire on Road 31 W, just southeast of Portage la Prairie.
"I knew John relatively well. He's been attending the church for 16 years and knew him as a passionate man. He was a man of integrity and loved meaningful conversations," said Willms.
"We'll miss him dearly."
Portage Fire department chief Dave Holmes said that 15 minutes after 2 p.m. on Thursday, firefighters were called to a grass fire out of control on Road 31 W.
Holmes said the Froese had been attempting a controlled burn when things went awry. Froese reportedly tried to put the fire out with his tractor but got trapped in his cattle shed, which had also caught fire after the fire spread through the grass and pasture.
Eight firefighters arrived on scene with three pumpers but couldn't put out the blaze in time before the man succumbed to the fire, Holmes said.
The RCMP and Office of the Fire Commissioner are still investigating. Portage EMS were also on scene and an autopsy has been scheduled.
Still, his sudden passing has left a hole in the hearts of Portagers who will miss his "wise-old grandfather voice"
"It put a lump in the throats of everyone," said Willms
Several incidences of grass fires bring light to issues of safety surrounding controlled burning at this time of year.
The Portage Fire Department has been burned with grass fires all week, especially on Tuesday when three broke out alone.
Crews attended three separate fires on Tuesday night: one south of Portage at Road 57 N, a mile east of Highway 305; a second fire near Old Bridge Road; and, a third near McCains
The fires were small and easily extinguished and there were no injuries as a result of the fires.
Nevertheless, the RCMP and the Portage Fire Department is reminding the public of the danger of grass fires and the threat they pose to life and property.