April 29 2015

This Season Worst Time for Brush Fires

By: Rich Hosford

Spring is the worst season for brush fires and Burlington Fire Department Chief Steve Yetman is telling people to be careful when engaged in an activity that could start one. 


It may be counterintuitive to most people that the height of brush fire season would be now instead of in the dry heat of late summer, but Yetman said that by that time there is more vibrant, living vegetation. Now, however, there is more dead plant matter on the ground. 


Yetman said brush fires can happen all year round, but that they spike from April to June. He said on average the department responds to between 40 and 70 brush fires per year. 


“There isn’t a month we haven’t had a brush fire in over the years, but in January it’s next to nothing,” he said. 


Of course, the level of brush fires depends on many factors, including how dry the ground is, the current weather and the wind. Wind will help spread the fires on the surface whereas a dry ground will help the fire spread underground, feeding off of old root systems and buried trees. 


While lightning can cause brush fires, Yetman said that is rare. He said most are started by someone being careless with a cigarette or a campfire. 


“If you’re going to go out and walk the trails, and you’re a smoker, be careful,” he said.  “Make sure it’s completely out or even better, don’t discard it in the woods – bring it out with you.” 


He also said that while having a campfire on town land is illegal and he doesn’t condone it, if you are going to have one at least use proper campfire techniques. Make sure you clear the area around the fire of debris and use a rock or metal barrier to keep it from spreading. 

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