3/25/2014 1:33:00 PM Vegetation killed by harsh winter contributes to spring fire hazards
LaMotte Township Fire Department handled two field fires that got out of control this weekend. This one was south of Hutsonville on 1550th St. All told there were six field/grass fires that area departments responded to over the weekend. (Tom Compton photo)
The harsh winter and springtime breezes make for extreme fire hazards as people begin their seasonal cleanup.
"In September and August you thing about dry conditions and fire hazards," said Robinson Fire Department Captain Chris Wesley. "But, not in the springtime."
The harsh winter has killed off a lot of vegetation, making the hazard for fire much greater. As people begin their spring cleanup of burning leaves and fallen limbs, it only takes a few minutes for a fire to get out of control.
Wesley recommends people avoid burning on windy days and to always stay with their fires.
Other tips included keeping fires to a minimum size, keep a hose or bucket of water handy, and to clear extra debris away from the fire area.
He also recommends calling in to central dispatch if you plan on doing a lot burning, and to call if a fire gets out of control.
"Call before it is too late," Wesley said. "There is no charge for us putting out a fire."
The National Weather Service has not issued a fire danger warning for the Crawford County area yet, but Wesley said he would not be surprised if a burn ban is instituted if conditions stay dry.
Central dispatch has already had 16 calls for area fire departments to handle grass fires just since the beginning of February. There were six calls for fires that got out of control over the weekend.
In Indiana firefighters in southwestern Daviess County fought at least nine grass fires last week. Washington Township Volunteer Fire Chief Tony Wichmanin told the Washington Times-Herald the cold weather killed off a lot of vegetation that will burn quickly.
Washington Fire Chief Dave Rhoads says high winds are contributing to the problem.
The National Weather Service posted a warning of an enhanced wildfire danger Friday for several southern Indiana counties.
The weather service says a low relative humidity and winds gusting near 30 mph will create dangerous conditions in which fires could quickly spread out of control.