15 grass fire calls in two days keep Shawnee Heights firefighters busy

Megan Hart
Topeka Capital Journal – March 23, 2014

shawnee heights fire 3232014

Shawnee Heights Fire District responded to 15 grass fire calls in two days, despite “ideal” conditions for planned burns, firefighters said.

Mark Engholm, a firefighter with Shawnee Heights Fire District, said they responded to eight grass fire calls on Saturday and seven more by 8 p.m. Sunday. They were able to get all of the fires under control quickly, he said.

“Conditions today were ideal for burning,” he said on Sunday evening.

The problem was that people who wanted to burn pastures to clear the way for new grass didn’t always come up with a plan to keep the flames under control, Engholm said.

“They may just have a rake, and they think they can control several acres of fire,” he said.

If you plan to burn a pasture, make sure you have an adequate water supply and people to help you control the fire. Setting fires to burn into the wind also prevents them from getting out of control, while increasing the odds of a thorough burn in each area, Engholm said.

Fire breaks, such as moats and dirt areas without vegetation, also prevent fires from spreading too far, Engholm said.

“A fire is not going to stop at a barbed wire fence or a property line,” he said.

This could be an active spring for grassfires that require responses because of the dry landscape, Engholm said. People planning a burn should consult with their local fire department about required permits and how to conduct a safe burn, he said.

“This is just the start of the season,” he said.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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