Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Brush fire spreads to grass

February 23, 2005

A simple brush fire turned into an out-of-control grass fire Thursday afternoon near 203rd Street and U.S. Highway 24-40.

As Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett said, the burn started out small. The residents had a burn permit and were monitoring the small fire, but Mother Nature had other ideas.

With winds between 15 and 20 miles per hour, the fire gained momentum and blazed across pasture land. Stranger Township Fire Department responded to the fire, while Tonganoxie city firefighters assisted.

As the fire spread, it inched closer to various buildings.

"It was fairly close," Bennett said. "We got it stopped. There was one barn that was in danger. The structures were definitely a concern. We did get it stopped."

Firefighters responded to another fire Thursday near 242nd Street and Evans Road that fire personnel got under control.

With last year's increase in precipitation, grass has become thicker and, therefore, provides more burnable substances, Bennett said.

And this month, even though the ground isn't necessarily dry, the threat of fires getting out of control still exists.

"Even though we had a lot of moisture, the grass still was in a dormant state," Bennett said.

If residents plan to burn in rural areas, they need to call the Leavenworth County sheriff's office at (913) 724-1313 to receive a burn permit.

The county issues permits based on the range land fire index. A sign near the Leaven-worth County Annex, 425 Laming Road, in Tonganoxie indicates the fire index as low, moderate, high or extremely high.

"They do not issue burn permits if it is high," Bennett said.

In Tonganoxie, residents need to stop by the fire station, 825 E. Fourth, for a permit.

When preparing to burn, Bennett said residents should take a few factors into consideration.

"The main thing I would tell them is to be aware of the forecast all day long," Bennett said. "You might be burning in the morning, but what's it going to do at lunch time and in the afternoon."

And if the fire appears to be getting out of control, the fire department's number is (913) 845-9494 -- or, of course, 911 for emergencies.

"Be aware and stay with the fire," Bennett said. "If it does get out of hand, make sure you call right away."

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