Fourth of July brings high fire danger this year

Fourth of July brings high fire danger this year
By: Carly O'Keefe
This Fourth of July weekend is hot, dry and at times, windy. That means folks should use extreme caution with campfires and fireworks or their holiday could go up in smoke.
One Williamson County man learned that not only holiday fun, but also yard work poses a fire danger on a dry and windy day.
"It started just a little fire in the corner," said Frank Snider. "It didn't take long."
You could see smoke rising from Snider's barn for miles. But the blaze started out very small. Snider's lawn mower backfired inside the barn, but that was all it took to burn the structure to the ground.
"It's (the lawn mower) been spitting fire out of the exhaust, and I saw that little flick of flame there and I went and got the hose and put it out. The rest is history," said Snider.
Snider initially thought he'd put out the fire with his garden hose, but when he noticed it was still burning, he called 911.
"When I called 911, gosh, you couldn't see nothing. It was just a little small fire inside," Snider said.
Snider says the wind picked up, and by the time firefighters arrived, the barn was in flames.
"It's been dry and it's also hot," said Army Corps. of Engineers Park Ranger Mark Roderick. "That combination of dry and hot really increases the fire danger."
Rend Lake Park Rangers know how quickly a fire can start and spread out of control.
"You've got dry grasses, dry debris, dry pine needles, that all in these conditions can catch fire very fast with very little ignition source," said Roderick.
Campers at Rend Lake are asked to keep a close eye on their camp fires this holiday weekend and entirely refrain from one Fourth of July tradition.
"Our biggest concern is fireworks," said Roderick. "Fireworks are extremely hot and they can catch things on fire very easily."
While rangers hope for a fire-free July Fourth, they're prepared; they know it doesn't take much to spark something big.
"All of our fire equipment is ready to go and on standby," said Roderick. "We can make a first response; if we can't knock it down we can call in the area fire departments for back up."