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WVFD battles two north divide fires PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 24 May 2012 16:38


The members of the Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department took on steep canyon terrain to fight a pasture fire last Wednesday north of town. Despite the difficult terrain they made quick work of putting out the blaze with assistance from the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department.


By Sheri Hink

The Wauneta Breeze

 

The Wauneta Volunteer Fire Department made two more trips to the north divide last week to battle two pasture fires.

The first trip last Wednesday, May 16 was to battle a fire in a canyon pasture. The fire struck the pasture owned by Ivy Ellicott on the north east side of the intersection of Avenue 347 and Road 735.

WVFD Chief Donny Allen said the fire took eight to 10 acres of pasture land, the majority of it in the steep canyon.

Canyon fires add a special level of difficulty in the battle due to the logistical obstacles, in addition to the to-be-expected hazards of fighting a pasture fire. Allen said that the fire crew had a “heck of a time” getting to parts of the fire on Wednesday.

The exact cause of the fire is unknown. It was started along the edge of the road and may have been caused by a cigarette butt or some other spark. The area was in a red flag warning for critical fire weather on Wednesday, meaning the environmental conditions were present to create explosive fire growth potential.

Despite the difficult terrain and weather conditions favorable to fire growth, the WVFD, with assistance from the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department, made fairly short work of putting out the fire. The crew left the shop at 3:06 p.m. MT and returned around 7:30 p.m. that evening.

WVFD was again called out for another fire on the north divide in rural Hayes County north and west of the intersection of 351 Avenue and 744 Road the evening of Thursday, May 17. That fire, also in a pasture was much smaller, approximately the size of a football field. It took the fire crew but an hour to get the fire under control. Allen said that their quick control of the fire was, in part, thanks to the green pasture which made the fire burn fairly slowly.

 

Call for caution

So far the community has been lucky that the fires so far this year have not caused any major personal or property damage, however the dry conditions require that all practice extra caution and care to prevent fires.

Allen urges the public to practice extreme caution in light of the dry conditions. “People just need to use common sense when it comes to preventing fires,” says Allen.

Using good judgement you can prevent most fires, he noted. For example, use caution when burning trash in burn barrels because that can sometimes ignite into a damaging fire. Allen noted that a spark can fly as much as 50 feet from the burn barrel. So, trash should only be burned in barrels when the wind is down and never near dry grasses or trees.

Any open burning must receive a burn permit from the fire department that services that area.

The National Weather Service has issued several red flag warnings in or near the Wauneta area lately.

“A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will be shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential,” explains the National Weather Service website.

University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the Nebraska Forest Service’s websites have many resources for how to prevent fires. The Nebraska Forest Service names several simple things that can be done to prevent a fire on a farm.

• Never allow smoking in or around barns or outbuildings.

• Do not refuel an internal combustion engine while it is hot or running.

• Make sure electrical wiring is inspected and approved.

•Install lightning rods on all major buildings.

•Never burn on windy days and when you do burn, keep water and firefighting tools handy.

•If you burn trash in a burn barrel, always cover the flame with a burn screen.

Find additional fire prevention materials at www.nfs.unl.edu/publications.asp. The State Fire Marshall’s Web page also has many fire prevention resources, including many for kids. The Fire Marshall’s fire prevention materials are available online at www.sfm.ne.gov/programs-services/fireprev/safety.html.