High winds, dry conditions keeping firefighters busy

By Tom Parker
Washington County News – April 3, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 29, 2014

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During the spring burning season when farmers burn off vegetation, it’s not unusual to hear fire bells wailing from tornado sirens. This year, however, weather patterns seem intent on creating perfect conditions for extreme fire danger, and the result is a surge of activity for volunteer firefighters.

Warm, calm days–ideal for controlled prairie burns, the iconic rite of spring in rural Kansas–interspersed with days of high winds and dry conditions are keeping firefighters busy throughout the county. Burns that are conducted during windless days are whipped into life when winds pick up again, almost methodically the following day. A grass fire several miles south of Barnes on All American Road flared up three times between Saturday and Monday, and others around the county have done the same. Firefighters are having to extinguish the same fire two, three or more times.

“When the season first starts,” one firefighter said, “every time the whistle blows it’s, ‘Oh, boy!’ Now it’s ‘Oh, no.'”

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently lists the county as abnormally dry. Rain is expected this week, which might provide some relief to firefighters.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster