Increase in brush fires spark concerns

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) -- A busy weekend for firefighters in the Grand Valley is setting a surprising trend.

According to dispatch, there were 20 different brush fires just this weekend.

“The fire department is on track to be responding to three times as many brush fires as we did this time last year,” said Dirk Clingman, from the Grand Junction Fire Department.

Smoke throughout the valley, because its open burning season.

“It gets pretty smoky when everyone burn at once,” said Walter Rhodes, a long-time Grand Junction who knows how to burn responsibly.

“You can smell the smoke in the air,” said Helen Rhodes

Many of the fires that are getting out of control are manmade and that’s due to dry conditions and high winds during the day,” according to the Grand Junction Fire Department.

Some residents in rural areas say it’s a necessity.

“It’s a good weed control method its gets ride of a lot of noxious weeds and less intrusive then using chemicals,” Walter Rhodes.

Rhodes said if you burn you should be prepared for any type of situation.

“You need to have good source of water to extinguish fires and good shovels,” said Rhodes. “Make sure you have plenty of help there with you, to do what necessary to contain the fire.”

“You should plan those out before you burn not during,” said Clingman.

Also if you plan to burn, the fire department said make sure you alert your neighbors, not dispatch.

“They don't just take 20 calls, and then they manage brush fire they are very heavily taxed by brush fires in our community.

The biggest way to prevent flare ups from getting out of control is make sure everything is completely extinguished.

“Like in Boy Scouts you’re supposed to be able to sit where the fire pit was before you leave,” Rhodes. “The thought is make sure the fire is thoroughly out there is no heat left.”

Fires can also be caused by arching electrical lines, traveling vehicles creating sparks, cigarette butts, as well as target shooting in empty fields.

Anyone planning to burn must have burn permit to do so.

Those can be picked up at the Grand Junction Fire Department or Mesa County Health Department.

Anyone in city limits with less than one acre of land is not allowed to burn.

The Grand Valley isn’t the only area experiencing extremely dry conditions as you have seen from the wildfire on the Front Range, where someone our wildfire team were deployed to help out.
The fire department here said that this will help our firefighters get valuable experience to bring back home.



 
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