VAUGHN — Rural firefighters are asking the public to keep fire safety in mind this spring as they predict a busy fire season this summer.
Vaughn Fire & Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth Hanks says even though we've seen mild weather and snowfall over the past week, fire fuels such as dry grass continue to remain a threat.
While the ground may feel moist, wildland fires can spread rapidly by burning dry grass above the soil. “We had kids lighting off fireworks and thinking it was moist enough,” said Hanks. “The ground was wet - the fuels were not. They dry out real quick. The ground will hold the moisture but it doesn't do anything for the dried out fuels.”
Hanks also encourages people to fire-proof their yards and homes before the heat of the summer. Wood piles stacked against houses, or tall dry grass can be managed now before a fire breaks out.
“The Stuckey Fire that broke out a few years ago, one of the houses was endangered but the person had three feet of gravel around the base of their house,” said Hanks. “The fire went right around it.”
The department has responded to several false wildland fire calls this year; he encourages people to go through the permit process before attempting to burn anything. “If we know there's a prescribed burn, I don't have to call in all the surrounding mutual counties, especially daytime calls, we’re short-manned,” Hanks said.
He also urges residents to ensure their fire is completely out when burning or out camping. "We're having a lot of rekindles recently, one of which we spent the entire night on because it was a huge slash pile,” he said. “High winds and embers were blowing all over the place.”