Union firefighters fought a 20-acre brush fire last week that began in a recreational fire pit.
That is just one of the many grass and brush fires that local fire crews have fought this month due to low humidity and high winds.
Union Fire Protection District Assistant Chief David Biser said there was a “red flag” warning issued Friday because conditions were conducive to spread a wildfire.
“The wind was kicking up a bit and it blew some hot embers that got into high grass,” he said, “and it just took off from there.”
Biser noted that there were 15-20 acres burning at one time between Highway EE and Neier Road. Firefighters were dispatched after 10 p.m. Friday.
“Our biggest issue was getting access,” he added. “It walked across the fields so quickly that we couldn’t get ahead of it.”
Firefighters did extinguish the blaze, but brush fires have occurred often over the past several weeks, Biser said.
“When the humidity is low and there are high winds we really have a big problem with people burning and it getting away from them,” he said
The National Weather Service (NWS) issues the “red flag” warning when conditions are ripe for brush fires, but not everyone heeds the warning.
“There is always somebody who starts a little fire,” said Biser.
The Union district does not issue bans, but recommends that people pay attention to warnings issued by the NWS and Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“We recommend that before people burn they call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and ask for a recommendation,” Biser said. “Another good resource is the NWS which will put out a fire advisory. That usually gives them an idea if it’s safe.
“Anytime the humidity gets down to 25 percent and winds are above 10 mph, people should be cautious of burning,” he added.
Biser noted that not only have there been several brush fires in the Union district, firefighters have been dispatched to help in other districts.
However, none of the blazes have caused much damage.
“We’ve been able to keep the fire away from structures and we’ve been able to get then put out in a reasonable amount of time,” Biser said.
According to Biser, although firefighters have fought many brush fires out of the Union district, there also has been mutual aidprovided here.
“We have a very good mutual aid agreement with local jurisdictions,” he said. “At no time is our district left unprotected — if we need help, we call other departments and we return the favor.”
To prevent the spread of fires keep in mind the following precautions:
• Check for local burn bans or restrictions before conducting any open burning;
• Keep fire a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings;
• Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start the fire;
• Do not leave a fire unattended;
• Have fire extinguishment materials on hand, including a water supply, shovels and rakes;
• Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up; and
• Do not delay a call for help — call the fire department immediately at the first sign of the fire getting out of control.