With the unseasonable dry weather, Fire Capt. Dan Cooley urges residents to hold off on burning leaves.
Since there has not been a measurable rainfall in more than a month, Cooley said the ground is very dry. With the combination of dry grounds, wind and low humidity, there is a higher chance of brushfires.
“A lot of times we do catch these little brushfires where people have been burning leaves and it gets out of hand,” Cooley said.
“Usually by this time of the year when the leaves start falling, it becomes a problem.”
Although grass areas may look green, Cooley said that it is extremely dry. When walking onto a yard, one can hear the grass snap underneath their feet, he added.
“Usually you can rake back a top layer (of leaves), you find a wet layer of leaves, and there’s no wet layer underneath the leaves right now,” Cooley said.
Luckily, there have not been many major brush fires this year, but this is an issue residents need to be aware of, he said.
“If a fire breaks loose and it comes off you’re property, now your liable for any damage on somebody else’s property. A lot of homeowners don’t realize that,” Cooley said.
Even though it rained this past week, Cooley said it was not enough to moisten the ground. The ground is lacking 3 to 4 inches of rain.
“My personal recommendation is hold off until we get some kind of measurable rain,” Cooley said.
If residents burn leaves, he said to make sure a hose is nearby and that it is properly contained.
The unusual dry weather was an issue last fall when the state fire marshal issued red flag warnings. Red flag warnings mean the conditions are ideal for wildfires that can easily spread, according to Cooley.
He said he is keeping an eye out for red flag warnings.
“I’m surprised there are no red flag warnings yet, but there really should be in my opinion,” Cooley said.
Below is a list of safety tips provided by the American Red Cross to reduce the risk of fires.
Use caution when burning leaves – Clear leaves away from the home and other buildings. Burn leaves only when permitted and in accordance with local laws and guidelines. Use extreme caution to ensure safety and control of the fire.
Prepare your home – Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home.
Gather firefighting tools – Set aside household items that can be used as firefighting tools: rake, ax, bucket, shovel, etc. You may need to fight a fire before emergency responders arrive.
Install smoke alarms in your home – Install them on every level and in every room of your house. Test alarms once a month and replace them every 10 years.