The song lyrics of ‘it only takes a spark to get a fire going’ are relevant these days.
Those sparks have state and local fire officials on edge this time of year. Spring is typically known as wildfire season in the midwest.
Understanding weather conditions and climate trends is a key aspect of fighting and preparing for wildfires in Kansas, state fire officials said.
High winds in the past couple of weeks forced the Franklin County Emergency Management to issue burn bans. Tom Winter, Franklin County Emergency Management coordinator, said they follow state statute in issuing burn bans when the winds are going to be 15 MPH or higher that day.
“We also watch for relative humidity,” Winter said. “It can actually make the fire much worse.”
Winter said so far this spring has been tame compared than most years because of moisture this winter.
“This year, we have been fortunate enough we have had a lot of moisture over the winter and a lot of cold weather,” Winter said. “Our fire season so far has been a lot slower than in year’s past because of the moisture we have had. We have had several fire calls, but not nearly as much as we have had in years past. This is an abnormal season.”
Winter said conditions are usually ripe for fires during spring and fall when there is dead vegetation. He warned that does not mean fires can’t get out of control.
“Landowners or those living out in the country I would always be congizcent of wildfires,” Winter said. “If we go into a drought period, that green grass will burn as fast as dry grass. Try to keep your brush mowed down and away from houses. It will give you defensable space around your property. It only takes not doing the right thing if you are going to do prescribed burn. You can actually take a good operation and it will turn bad on you.”
Winter said burn permits are needed to burn legally in Franklin County. They can be purchased at the county planning and zoning office.
“We have a burn permit process,” he said. “There is a number on it you have to call and I will tell you if you can burn that day. You can be cited for burning outside the regulations. It does not matter what your intentions were, if it gets away from you and burns or hurts somebody.”
He said most of the problems come from those inexperienced with burning and don’t take the time to properly prep the area.
“Look at building a burn plan,” Winter said.