Butler County fire officials are urging residents to call before you burn, even if you have a permit. Butler County dispatch said fire crews throughout the county have responded to more than 30 fires since the beginning of the year, most of them grass fires.
“It has been very dry combined with strong winds and low humidity,” said Mike Roosevelt, Andover deputy fire chief. “This is making things burn that normally wouldn’t.”
But, as they say, if you don’t like the weather in Kansas just wait a minute. An elderly woman found that out that hard way in the 6300 block of Soutwest Santa Fe Lake Road on Monday.
Roosevelt said she had raked leaves into a pile in her garden and started to burn them.
“It was tilled ground so she picked the best possible place,” said Roosevelt. “The fire quickly got away from her, but had she burned in the morning she probably would have been OK.”
That’s because, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), at 7 a.m. on Monday the humidity was at 68 percent and the wind was only about 3 mph, but by noon the humidity had dropped to 28 percent and the wind had picked up to 29 mph. The NWS also reports the fire danger for Wednesday was rated moderate, but that jumps up to high on Thursday and Friday before dropping back to moderate over the weekend. There are no raindrops on the forecast map for the next seven days.
Roosevelt said the best rule of thumb is to call your local fire department before you burn. Even if you have a 30 day burn permit, the day and the time you plan to burn may not be the best time.
Roosevelt also gave this common sense advice to anyone planning on burning:
1. Follow whatever control burn rules there are for your area. Regulations for rural areas often differ from those in the city.
2. If you burn trash in a barrel, out in the county, use a mesh screen with holes no bigger than a quarter inch.
3. Don’t leave the fire unattended.
4. Watch the weather forecast to make sure humidity is up and wind is no stronger than 15 mph.
Roosevelt also said be sure to have a garden hose nearby, something the woman who started Monday’s fire didn’t have. She also didn’t have a burn permit. But Roosevelt said while the blaze ended up scorching 25 acres, fortunately no one was hurt.