As we enter fire seasons we see dry heat, low humidity, extreme wind, thunderstorms and dust devils (fire whirls). These dangerous conditions can cause and spread a brushfire at rapid speeds.
As a wildland firefighter, I ask you to join me in making the Big Bend Valley a firewise community. Being in a semi-remote area, we are on our own when defending ourselves against wildfires. But by being firewise, we will be able to protect our homes and property from the ever-looming threat of fire. Here are some suggestions:
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, garage and barns. If you see smoke or a fire call 9-1-1.
- Keep a good defensive space around your home and barn. Don’t let your grass or brush grow too tall or too close to your buildings. Keep pallets or firewood stacks away from buildings and propane tanks. Also clear out rat and bird nests from these areas as well under structures and porches as they can easily catch fire off of stray embers.
- In the event of a brush or grass fire make sure you move all outside furniture if wooden, wicker cushions and rugs inside until the fire threat has passed. Look for embers all around your buildings for a few hours or so. Embers can travel long distances and land on flammable items causing new fires.
- Don’t store lawn mowers, chainsaws, weed-eaters or small propane tanks under your home or porch. Maintain a defensive space around your fuel tanks. Because hoses can melt, be sure to shut valves of fuel tanks to prevent further damage should fire occur. Keep a fire extinguisher by your fuel tanks at all times.
- Damp or improperly cured hay when stacked tightly can create heat and start a fire. To aid in the prevention of a spontaneous combustion fire, try to monitor the temperature of your hay stack. If the temperature rises above 175 degrees, loosen your hay to allow air space.
- Abide by burn bans when in effect. When the burn ban is not in effect, use common sense when burning. Burn small amounts at a time. Consider using a burn barrel to prevent the spread of embers from your fire. Always have water or a fire extinguisher nearby. Never leave your fire unattended.
If we all follow these guidelines the Big Bend Valley will be a firewise community.
H.L. “Lee” Penland, Fire Chief
Big Bend Valley Volunteer Fire Dept.