Wind creates fire hazard
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a special weather statement concerning the strong winds and higher risk for grass fires this afternoon.
According to the NWS, wind from the south will increase to 20 to 30 miles per hour (mph) and in some areas reach 40 mph this afternoon. With these winds, warm temperatures, and low humidity, which allows dry vegetation to easily ignite, will lead to a high risk for grass and brush fires this afternoon.
Washington Fire Department Captain Craig Rembold said grass and brush fires are common in the spring because people are burning off dead vegetation.
However, Rembold said residents should consider the weather conditions when they want to burn something.
“Whatever you do, just don’t do it on a windy day,” Rembold said. “Don’t let it get away from you, especially on a windy day like today.”
Rembold said it’s important for people to not leave the burns unattended.
“Keep an eye on it,” he said. “Have a four-wheeler with you and water just in case.”
He suggests residents have a dirt barrier built around the burn area so when the fire reaches the barrier it goes out.
Another suggestion Rembold has for a resident is to notify their local fire department about the controlled burn they would like to have.
“Call us ahead of time and give us a heads up or the safety center with your address and cell phone number,” Rembold said. “In most cases we’ll only go out to the fire if the landowner calls in and tells us it’s out of control.”
People driving by the fires over by Highway 218 often call in and report them to the communications center or the fire department, which is why it is important for residents to notify their local fire departments ahead of time, Rembold said.
“Unless it becomes a traffic issue we don’t go out until we hear from the landowner,” he said.