A grass fire northwest of the Battlefords Monday afternoon forced police to shut down a large portion of highway 16.
An off-duty member of the RCMP reported the blaze to the Maidstone detachment at around 3:30 p.m.
It was sparked on the south side of the Yellowhead near the village of Paynton, then jumped both lanes of the double-lane highway.
Zero visibility was reported because of heavy black smoke, and traffic in both directions was blocked between Paynton and Maidstone for about 90 minutes.
No one was injured, but the fire did spread to Gary Georgiew’s scrap yard business.
“The wind took it and basically burned all my vehicles in my compound,” Georgiew said.
The fire claimed 15 scrap vehicles and damaged two others at a nearby business.
Traffic was allowed to resume shortly after 5 p.m.
RCMP are offering thanks to three civilians who helped with the initial response.
Police haven’t ruled out arson and an investigation into the fire is ongoing.
At this time, Paynton has a partial fire ban.