Recent moisture may result in more fuel for fires

Barbara Anne Greene

The recent snow and rain may have been good for now. However, they may also result in additional growth of weeds, grasses, etc. that will eventually dry out. Those dry plants will provide fuel for burns.
Big Horn County Fire Warden Brent Godfrey has seen this happen before. Wet spring weather not only helps crops grow; it helps plants like cheat grass, cat tails and kochia weed grow tall and thick. As temperatures rise, grasses and weeds will dry out.
Controlled burns can easily get out of control and burn through quickly as they feed off the dry material. Last month, fire departments were already receiving calls about controlled burns that grew out of control.
Just like the weather in Wyoming, the wind direction can change in an instant. Godfrey recommends checking the weather forecast as a precaution. The Riverton office of the National Weather Service is a good source.
Causalities of out-of-control burns are often power poles and fence posts.
The burning party is responsible for such damages and could be held financially liable for the materials and crew time it takes to repair/replace what was burned.
Whether you are a new landowner or an old hand at controlled burns, Godfrey stated that the following tips are important. They could ensure that your burn remains controlled.
• Have a water source nearby such as a water tank, a sprayer full of water or even a few buckets of water.
• Create a fire break. This can be a road, ditch, canal or even a six-inch wide area of cleared dirt around the designated burn area.
• Have the right gear, including gloves, boots, rakes and shovels.
• Always notify the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office before burning and when you are finished. The number is 307-568-2324.