- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
Last weekend it was warm and sunny, and 24 hours later it was snowing.
With spring comes days of warm afternoon sunshine, lower humidity, strong, gusty winds…and wildfire.
Last Saturday and Sunday fire departments were battling grass fires and on Monday and Tuesday, the best place for the fire was in the wood stove.
Every year about this time, folks start getting the urge to clean up around the place, whether it be getting rid of leaves piled up from the winter months, burning off the garden spot, or burning off the woods to get rid of ticks (yes, some believe it works).
Almost invariably what happens is that the wind picks up and whips the fire out of control, and the nearby rural fire department gets a call to come put out the fire that is about to get on a neighbor’s property, is threatening a house or barn, or is simply out of control and rapidly traveling across country.
At this time of year, even the most innocent fire can become a demon as the dry, dead vegetation left over from winter seems to be just waiting for the smallest spark from an outside burn barrel, hot ashes from the wood stove, or a cigarette butt tossed out the car window.
For the next couple of months, until new vegetation gets a good start, conditions can be very deceptive. Heavy morning dew or even a morning shower of rain can give a false sense of security that should not be trusted.
The ground can be wet – even soggy – and yet, after just a few hours of sunshine and wind, the dead vegetation will dry out enough to become volatile tender.
As the afternoon humidity drops and the wind picks up, there are times it will look like the fire is burning across the bare ground. And on a really windy day, it is not uncommon for fire to jump several feet across a fire line, a county road or even a state highway.
Please be careful with your outside burning. If you feel you must burn, watch the weather conditions closely.
If you have a field or an area to burn off, do it late in the evening when the humidity is high, and then stay with the fire and never leave it unattended.
If you need to burn trash, keep a hose handy and treat it like a young child – don’t ever let it out of your sight.
If you’re burning a brushpile or a large area, make sure you have plenty of help to control it, and let the fire department in your area know you are planning to burn. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to let your neighbors know.
Believe it or not, there have been instances where a fire department was called by a passer-by or neighbor to put out a fire, much to the dismay of the landowner who wanted the place to burn.
Springtime is a beautiful season and one we have looked forward to for several months. But for firefighters, the beauty can soon fade into sooty black. Please be careful.