Tis the season for grass fires

April 11, 2019

By Pat Maurer

With warmer weather and no more snow to dampen things down, the grass fire season has begun.

Clare Fire Chief Jim Chapman said the weather conditions are changing “minute to minute.” He said the fire department was called to the home of Derek Wiley at 9640 Gravel Ridge Road off Kapplinger in Grant Township last Thursday around 2:15 p.m. when a wind gust blew sparks from a legal fire in a fire pit into the surrounding yard and caught it on fire.

Wiley said he had left the fire just for a few minutes and returned to find his yard blazing. He and a neighbor extinguished most of the fire with garden hoses before the fire department arrived, Chapman said. Firemen extinguished hot spots left from the blaze.

Sparks blown from a fire pit ignited the yard of a home on Gravel Ridge Road April 4th. Clare firefighters extinguish hot spots in the yard.
Photo by Bob Guiliani

It was the sixth grass fire the department has fought in the past couple of weeks, Chapman reported. “One day when the temperature is cooler with a shower, burning permits are allowed. The next day, warmer temperatures and even a light wind dries everything out and no burning is allowed.”
He urged people to check out the conditions at 9 & 10.com or call the DNR Hotline at 866-922-2876 or go to www.michigan.gov/burnpermit to see if burning is permitted.

“People really need to be aware of the weather conditions,” Chapman said. “Burning anything this time of year depends on the weather, humidity, wind conditions, and temperatures.”

He continued, “Even if people are burning legally, they are responsible for the fire and need to stay with it until it is extinguished. They need to know that if their fire gets out of control and causes damage, they could be held responsible for the cost of the fire department extinguishing the blaze and for any damages the fire causes.”

Chapman warned, “Burning your ditches is not an agricultural burn, although many people think it is, it is NOT considered an agricultural burn.” He said an “agricultural burn is only when ground is being prepared for planting.”

The fire on Gravel ridge was minor and quickly extinguished, he said. “We were able to handle it.”

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