NEWS HEADLINES

Forecast: Busy grass fire season ahead

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Firefighters from 11 agencies responded to a grass fire between Rhome and Newark Friday afternoon.

The blaze, which was toned out around 3 p.m., charred between 75 and 100 acres in the Rolling V Ranch on Farm Road 3433.

Investigators believe a cutting torch used to work on a fence caused the fire.

Units from Rhome, Newark, East Wise, Paradise and Boyd fire departments responded along with a Task Force from Tarrant County, which included personnel and equipment from Lake Worth, Briar, Blue Mound, Eagle Mountain, Saginaw and Haslet.

Because of wind conditions, the fire moved quickly, prompting command to call for backup.

Fortunately, the fire was contained and limited to pastureland; no structures were involved.

With high winds in the forecast and existing dry conditions, Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard anticipates many grass fires like the one Friday over the next three or four weeks.

“The fuel load, the dry vegetation and the high winds will make for a busy last part of February, early March,” he said. “Residents need to be very vigilant. Be conscious of the wind, and use common sense. If it’s windy, postpone your burning.”

He also advised that burning be done in the morning, when humidity is higher and wind gusts are less likely.

“A common misconception is that because it rained one day, you’re good to burn the next day,” Beard said. “If the wind’s blowing, it dries the grass out, and it can burn an hour after it rained.”

Wise County is not under a complete burn ban, but burning is prohibited on “red flag” days as designated by the National Weather Service.

The NWS also issues “high fire danger” days where residents are advised to refrain from burning, but it isn’t technically illegal.

“Residents must remember that when they burn, even if it’s a good day, if the fire gets out, you are 100 percent responsible for whatever happens,” Beard said. “If you burn your neighbor’s house, their fence or even just their land, you’re responsible.”

All outdoor burning must be conducted in daylight and reported to the Sheriff’s Office in advance by calling 940-627-5971.

Fires must be attended, with some type of firefighting tool – a garden hose, bucket of water, extinguisher, etc. – on hand.

For a complete list of regulations, visit www.co.wise.tx.us/burnban.htm.

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