Area firefighters battle numerous grass fires
Before spring rains arrive each year, it's not uncommon for the county's firefighters to battle grass fires.
And this year is no exception.
On Sunday afternoon, firefighters from four county departments fought a fire that threatened several homes and outbuildings on 187th Street, between Donahoo and Hollingsworth roads. That fire, according to Tonganoxie Fire Chief Dave Bennett, was a difficult one.
During the first two months of 2006, the Tonganoxie area received less precipitation than it did during January and February 2005.
Here are rainfall statistics compiled by Tom Norman, who tracks precipitation for the National Weather Service from his home, five miles southeast of Tonganoxie.
2005: 3.38 inches 2006: 0.95 inches
2005: 2.47 inches 2006: No measurable precipitation
In 2005, Norman recorded a total of 42.69 inches of precipitation.
"It was crazy," he said. "It was high-density evergreen trees, and it was actually going over the tops of the trees."
Two homes were in peril, but firefighters were able to stop the fire before it reached the buildings.
"We did lose a small chicken coop, I believe," Bennett said.
Tonganoxie City firefighters, along with firefighters from Stranger, Tonganoxie and Fairmount townships, battled the blaze for more than four hours, Bennett said. He said the fire started when an area resident was burning trash.
"Embers got out, and it just took off," the fire chief said.
Because conditions are so dry, Bennett cautioned area residents to be extremely careful with any type of outdoor fire -- from cigarettes to trash barrels.
"It's bad," he said. "I haven't seen it this dry for a number of years."