Grass Fires Keep Metro Fire Departments Busy
JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — A metro fire department has issued a warning about grass fires being more common during a drought. Drought conditions are often creating fire hazards that can become dangerous with only a small spark.
It’s been a busy week for fire crews in Johnson County. Fire officials say they’ve fought a surprising number of grass related fires this summer. It’s mostly due to a lack of rainfall. However, grass doesn’t burn itself. One fire chief says the number and severity of grass fires will go down as people exercise better safety.
Chief Jim Francis says after 25 years of service, he’s never seen a summer like 2012. Crispy grass turns into an immediate fire hazard. A backyard in Stillwell caught fire last week when some workers cutting concrete rebar saw a small spark cook five acres of land.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult. We’re getting more and more fires as the dryness continues. It’s taxing our resources,” Chief Francis said.
Francis and his firefighters saved the day that time around. It’s bad enough to lose a fence, but had the blaze reached the barn at the other end of the property, there could’ve been a loss of livestock or the barn.
In Jackson County, Missouri, KC Scout cameras caught a smokey grass fire near I-70 in Independence on Monday. The fire chief suspects a cigarette may have caused grass to ignite. Back in Kansas, Chief Francis says careful people can prevent careless fires.
“Everything right now is highly combustible. Anything that out there that’s in danger of catching fire is going to,” Chief Francis said.
This week’s weather forecasts show that windy conditions are on the way. Firefighters fear that wind gusts will blow sparks from one piece of property to another and create bigger problems out of smaller fires.