Rural fire departments stay busy over weekend

By Greg Doering
Abilene Reflector Chronicle – April 1, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – May 3, 2014

A long weekend stretched into Monday for rural fire departments in Dickinson County, according to Russ Wilkins, the he county’s emergency communications director, crews were battling up to five grass fires at once Monday afternoon after responding to 45 similar incidents from Friday morning to midnight Sunday.

Wilkins attributed several fires on Sunday to “rekindles” from controlled burns on Saturday, when the county issued 111 burn permits across the county.

“That’s a far cry from right after wheat harvest,” Wilkins said of the period where 160-plus permits have been issued by the county.

Wilkins said of the permitted burns Saturday, only five required assistance from county fire department to extinguish.

While Saturday’s low winds aided area agricultural producers in keeping their burns controlled, they did little to push away a cloud of smoke that blanketed much of the county.

Conditions quickly deteriorated Sunday with a south wind gusting up to 50 mph. Embers left from burning the day before could be carried far from their point of origin.

Those gusty conditions continued on Monday, as crews battled 11 more grass fires across the county.

As of Monday afternoon, all but the southeast corner of Dickinson County was under a burn restriction, meaning permits wouldn’t be issued in those jurisdictions.

When the restrictions are lifted, a permit from the Dickinson County Emergency Communications Center is still necessary. Those burning without a permit could face criminal penalties that include a fine up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.

Relief could come overnight with a 70 percent chance of rain. The possibility of precipitation extends though Thursday.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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