The Herald Bulletin

April 8, 2013

Dry conditions ideal for brush fires

But not for long with rain in forecast

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — There’s just a small speck of time. With up to 2 inches of rain forecast for Wednesday, the chance for brush fires is reduced.

“That much rain will put a damper on the potential for brush fires for several weeks after that,” said Joe Skowronek, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

But until then, it’s “prime time” for them, he added. It’s been warmer, it’s been dryer and there’s definitely been a breeze that could spread anything ignited.

The Anderson Fire Department has received a couple of calls about field fires in the past few days, but Chief Phil Rogers noted there’s been nothing major or unusual.

Skowronek said there are two basic brush fire seasons: one in the spring from Feb. 15 to April 30 and another in the fall from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15.

“You can get brush fires during the summer if it’s really dry, but that’s less usual,” he said.

Why?

Because, typically, by summer time plants are green and have more moisture in them, he said.

If there are drought conditions, however, like there were last summer, there is a higher risk.

AFD fire investigator Kevin Heflin said there was a small field fire Monday that started after burning wood was left unattended. On Sunday, a four-wheeler that had caught aflame burned a portion of a field.

Neither required much manpower.

When it comes to the causes of these fires, AFD Battalion Chief Sam Aleshire said there’s a “whole plethora of scenarios.”

“There’s a broad stripe with a big brush,” he said. “Anything that sets anything on fire could be the cause.”

He listed unattended campfires, cigarettes, cookouts and, rarely, lightning as examples.

How severe a brush fire could be really depends on how much has been set ablaze, the weather conditions and the equipment available, he noted.

And, Aleshire said, the best way to avoid those brush fires is to use tips like Smokey the Bear offers for any burning or campfires: choose a safe burning site, prepare it correctly, remain with any fire and have some way to extinguish any blaze on hand.

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