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Spring the season for brush fires

Steffes offers advice for those who plan to burn vegetation

Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 5:00 a.m. CDT

The regularity of brush fires has picked up in the past week, according to Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes.

That’s because springtime, in addition to being the season of growth, is also brush fire season.

“It’s the time of the year, partly,” he said.

Many burn away last year’s vegetation to make way for this year’s. And with weather that can change from sunny and calm to windy in a matter of hours, those controlled fires can easily get out of control.

But something fairly unique about this year, according to Steffes, is that last fall — also a season with a high number of brush fires — did not see as many fires as usual, despite it being a dry year.

“That means there’s a huge amount of fuel out there,” Steffes said, referring to old vegetation.

Steffes said that warm days in spring often see an especially high number of grass fires, as they are popular days to burn rubbish. Today was expected to be warm and windy, with a strong chance for rain.

Steffes advised those planning on burning rubbish or vegetation to know the burning ordinance, pay attention to the weather — particularly wind — and to use common sense.

He said winds as light as 10 miles per hour can spread a fire, and said it would be best to burn after a rain, when the ground is moist.

Finally, Steffes said to call the fire department in a timely manner.

Too often, he said, people initially try to put out small, out-of-control fires on their own, and by the time they call, the fire has gotten bigger.

“If it does get out of control, don’t hesitate to call,” Steffes said.

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