Rainfall doesn’t take away fire risks

Local

Much of south central Kansas got a half inch to an inch of rain, which is enough for some people to let their guard down when it comes to safe burning practices.

However, officials say, continue taking precautions even when getting out your barbecue grill or fire pit, such as having a bucket of water nearby. The small amount of rainfall is enough to cause more problems for first-responders.

“I would say that’s not enough moisture to provide us with a level of safety to have any large scale activities going on,” Andover Fire deputy chief Mike Roosevelt said.

Andover Fire fought a blaze in Rose Hill last week as well as a structure fire in Towanda which was a result of the Butler County grass fire. Much of the grass involved in the fire is in a post-grazing mode where it stands 18 to 24 inches tall and is dry, serving as a fuel for more fires.

“They really have hardly any fuel moisture in them  under a normal growing situation. When it’s dry, they can become a huge wick like a candle and carry fire not just to your home but around your neighborhood and could be a real problematic type of situation,” Roosevelt said.

Fighting fires in the mud after the rain can also cause problems for the thousands of pounds of equipment firefighters respond with. Wheels get stuck in the muck with no traction to get out.

“Unless you have high-quality four wheel drive with good tires and that sort of thing, the larger trucks which don’t have four wheel drive in many cases are just not gonna be able to get out there. We can get equipment stuck occasionally that equipment can be put in dangers and put the firefighters that are on that equipment in danger as well,” Roosevelt said.

Roosevelt explained that in situations like this, they gauge their response based on the property at stake, typically taking an aggressive approach.

Some advice from Roosevelt: if you are going to do a controlled burn this week, have someone of competent age be present from start to finish. Don’t mix alcohol and fire and call 911 early if something goes awry.

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