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Tips to prevent wood, grass fires offered

By Special To The News Messenger
Feb. 15, 2011 at 5:26 p.m.

Waskom volunteer firefighters Cary Gee and Tim Weglowski work to extinguish a large grass fire that threatened a mobile home. The prompt response resulted in no damage to the structure

Now that the weather has warmed up some, some have begun to work in their yards to clear areas brush or leaves that have accumulated during the winter weather.

Burning the debris is often considered a good way to dispose of the materials. It can, however, be the source of a fire that results in injuries or damage to property and structures.

Even though we have had significant amounts of rainfall and some snow, the grass is still brown and burns quickly when ignited.

There have been a number of grass and woods fires in the county the past few weeks, many of which occurred when a controlled burn spread to other areas. The dried grass, leaves, and brush create a fuel load that can quickly develop into a large burn, particularly if there are winds to spread the fire.

For burning to be done safely, it needs to be done in a cleared area away from other materials and structures that can ignite and should be done on a day when there is no wind.

An adequate supply of water to extinguish the fire must be on hand and the fire must be attended and carefully watched at all times to prevent it from spreading out of control.

In areas where certain days are designated for burning, the burn schedule must be observed.

Burning in a barrel with a wire grid on top of it can prevent some burning debris from being blown to another area, however the barrel still needs to be constantly monitored and an adequate supply of water kept readily available.

Another factor that causes some grass or woods fires is downed power lines caused by high winds or by accidents where a power pole in struck or a tree is blown onto the power line.

In addition to the fire problems created from the lines, there are also dangers of electrical shock if persons come in contact with the power line or in wet areas touched by the line.

Any fallen power line should be considered "live" until the power company turns off the power and needs to be reported immediately by calling 911. If possible, report the number on the power pole if it can easily be seen when the emergency is called in.

Waskom Fire/EMS asks you to join with them in helping prevent fires by observing these safety precautions.

If in doubt about whether conditions are safe to burn, it probably would be a good idea to postpone burning until another time. If a fire does get out of control, call 911 immediately and get the fire department in route. Be sure to give the dispatcher specific directions to the location of the fire and advise them if there are any structures in danger.

If you have not already done so, make certain that your 911 street or road address is clearly posted at your residence or at the entrance to your property so that the firefighters can quickly get to the location of the fire.

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