Thursday, April 8, 2010
Rash of grass fires hits county
By SUE WATSON
Rural fire departments have been on the run a lot lately putting out grass fires and some structure fires, according to county fire coordinator Hugh Hollowell.
He did not know the cause of fire near Keel’s Grocery on Highway 310 Wednesday afternoon last week which burned off a large area and took out a shed. Waterford Fire Department was primary on the scene with backup assistance from Potts Camp, Chulahoma and Watson Fire Departments.
“Brush fires have gotten to be a pretty good problem,” he said. “Several got out of hand Thursday. It takes a lot of manpower.”
Hollowell added that grass fires got dangerous on Gardner Road and Troy Drive off Tunstall Road and others at Slayden and Mt. Pleasant.
With more homes now in the county, fires become a big danger, he said. This time of year, after heavy rains, the ground is still wet and fire trucks have a hard time getting to fires. But the wind dries sage grass and brush quickly, he said.
Ron Ray, fire chief at Watson Fire Department and a certified fire training instructor by the State Fire Academy, said Watson provided a load of water to the fire near Keel’s but was not needed further and his crews left for other calls.
A fire at 8123 Highway 309 South on March 22 destroyed a house that was home to a family of five, he said. The fire is believed to have started from an electric heater that was too close to the bed during that cold week, Ray said.
“Luckily the gentleman heard it and, thank goodness, everybody got out,” he said.
Electric heaters should not be left plugged in close to couches, beds, curtains and other combustible materials, he said. They should be clear of any combustibles by three feet.
Ray said that most grass fires he knows of were started accidentally by people who wanted to burn some leaves or grass and brush then didn’t stay and watch it.
“The wind picks up and spreads it,” he said. “We’ve been very busy. Every time it rains, we thank the Lord. It gives us a break.”
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