Fire officials warn of dry conditions

Fire officials warn of dry conditions

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - While the temperatures are great for going outside, due to the dry conditions, fire officials are saying it is still important to be careful.

Carterville, Marion along with Carbondale Fire Department say there is no official burn ordinance, but they recommend everyone to still be safe.

"With the weekend being as dry as it is and as windy as it's been...I know everyone is going to want get out and clean up their yards, rake leaves, but it's really too dry to be burning this weekend..." Carbondale Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hertz explained. "Everything is just so dry that any little bit of fire will spread and the wind will make it ten times worst."

In addition, the Williamson County Fire Protection District says conditions will be favorable for field and grass fires.

If you are going to burn, the district says you should make sure to take protective measures so your controlled burn doesn't get out of control.

Officials in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri have also issued a "no burn statement." All Cape Girardeau County residents should refrain from burning outdoors.

The Missouri Division of Fire Safety, the National Weather Service and local fire response agencies in affected areas of Missouri are discouraging any open burning this weekend due to an elevated fire risk.

"I urge Missourians to refrain from burning leaves or brush in the areas of our state where the National Weather Service and local officials are warning of elevate fire risks," Acting State Fire Marshal J. Tim Bean said. "Conditions in most of Missouri were already abnormally dry or in moderate drought due to the lack of moisture, and in the last week the fire potential has risen considerably."

Wildfires not only pose a risk to lives and property, they place emergency responders in harm's way and can delay their ability to respond to house fires, vehicle crashes, medical calls and other emergencies. Smoke from wildland fires can also reduce visibility leading to traffic crashes and create medical issues for people with respiratory conditions.

On Feb. 16, fire response agencies across Missouri responded to many natural cover fires that resulted from open burning growing out of control. By early afternoon on Feb. 17, the St. Clair Fire Protection District in Franklin County had responded to six natural cover fires, five of which were the result of open burning.

Here's what you can do to help reduce the spread of fires:

  • Refrain from any open burning of leaves, brush or debris until conditions improve.
  • Do not wait to call 911 at the first sign of a fire.
  • Smokers should be extremely careful, extinguishing cigarette and cigar butts completely before disposal. Do not discard cigarettes from motor vehicles.
  • Secure trailer chains to prevent dragging. A spark in contact with dry grass could start a fire.
  • Off-Road Driving: Use caution when driving vehicles off-road. Sparks from vehicles or equipment coming in contact with dry grass can start fires in dry conditions. Catalytic converters on motor vehicles can also start fires when they come in contact with fine, dry fuel, such as grass. Always carry a fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off-road.
  • Grilling: Use caution with outdoor grilling: Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited. Never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Fire Pits: Be extra careful with fire pits, exercising the same precautions you would with an open fire: Before lighting the fire, check the wind direction. Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby. Do not overload. Do not burn trash and leaves. Avoid using soft woods that are likely to pop and throw sparks.

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