Illegal fires burning despite high danger level

By Pilar Martin
Harvey County Independent – April 2, 2015
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 22, 2015

Grass fires erupted last week and into this week, as fire danger remains high around the area.

Bentley Fire Chief Donnie Bean said his department was called to four fires in 10 hours from Saturday night through Sunday morning. Two of those fires were at the same location where a tree row was cut down, then burned.

Harvey County Emergency Management Director Lon Buller said, “This time of year, farmers want to clean up fields that were not grazed last year or ever, using controlled burning. They are also trying to get rid of red cedar trees,” Buller said.

“The trees are invasive to pastures, taking up grassland. If they are burned when small they will not come back.” Cedar trees also take large amounts of water from underground sources.

Burning is illegal in most communities without permission. Those living in Harvey County must call 911 to get permission for controlled burns.

“We usually do not hear about fires until they are out of control,” Halstead Assistant Fire Chief Anderson Lowe said. Lowe added that most farmers are good to work with and keep them updated when they are going to burn. “It’s people who don’t live around here, who get permits, start the fires, then leave,” Lowe said.

Fires can seem to be out, but if the wind picks up, they can rekindle.

For the next several days no burning will be permitted in the county. Harvey County’s fire danger runs from high to extreme right now. And until much-needed moisture starts falling, the danger will remain.

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