Webster County's volunteer fire chiefs remain vigilant as always for grass and brush fires during these hot summer months.
"You've got to be careful with it, because it can spread so quickly," Glen Westling, Badger fire chief, said.
Such fires can be caused by heat igniting dry vegetation.
-Messenger file photo
Duncombe firefighters Derek Cooney, left, and Nick Carpenter soaked smoldering scrap railroad ties with water and foam while putting out a ditch fire along 220th Street just east of Duncombe in April. Dry conditions due to the heat and lack of rain have increased the chances of fire.
"The bigger exposure probably is dryness. Drying out underbrush and things like that," Marty Smith, Otho fire chief, said. "You can get some grass fires, some things that might even go into the timber or tree stands that could burn. We definitely try to keep grass fires out of the timber areas, especially when it's dry like this."
He added, "They get very big, they get scary."
According to Smith, these fires don't happen as often during the summer as they do other seasons.
"We do probably more in the spring and the fall because of the lack of any green vegetation to stop any grass or brush fires," he said. "We're not near as bad a Colorado or so forth, where everything's really dry. We're good right now. We still have some moisture that keeps things green."
He added, "We don't have many forest fires and I'm glad of it."
Another cause of summer fires is carelessness.
"We had one from fireworks the other day, getting into dry grass," Westling said. "They shot off some fireworks and it went into an area by a field that had dry grass underneath. Even the road ditches can be a potential source right now because there's dry grass under the green and the grass doesn't have much moisture to slow the fire down."
The volunteer firefighters also remain vigilant of their own bodies when performing in such hot conditions, fighting dehydration.
"If we're out on the scene we have to be cautious, make sure firefighters have to be hydrated. We do rehab at scenes so people don't dehydrate," Smith said. "We have to be careful, manage our people and their time. We have emergency medical people on our staff. That's one of their jobs, to watch everyone else and make sure people aren't getting overheated."
Firefighters bring with them water in their trucks not only for fighting fire, but for fighting dehydration.
"We buy a lot of bottled water in the summertime. Sometimes, we get some donated and that's always appreciated," Smith said. "We try to stay well-hydrated, especially this time of year when we do anything. We try to carry water with us in all of our trucks."
Special tools and techniques are utilized in fighting grass fires.
"For grass and brush, we've got rakes, we've got paddles, trucks you can spray water while you go," Smith said. "We've got some people with wildland fire experience. I've got one kid who went to Texas last year and fought wildland fires. We're trained in that."