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Front Page » June 14, 2012 » Carbon County News » Tinder-dry conditions create wildfire threat
Published 827 days ago

Tinder-dry conditions create wildfire threat


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The open burn fire season is over. That period of time lasts from Nov.1 of each year to May 31 of the next year. While burn permits are always required of non-incorporated residents (no fires are allowed in incorporated areas) during the non-open burn season very few, if any, would be issued during the summer or fall.

And this year that is more important than ever. Fire danger everywhere in the area is very high.

But there is more to having wildfires start than just open burn fires. There are a lot of other ignition sources too.

With the premature onset of warm dry weather many people want to fire up the barbeque, roast marshmallows over a fire, or head to the hills. Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont and other fire officials around the county ask that before anyone does any of these, please take a few moments and review the fire safety guidelines.

Barbeque grills in general

Only use propane and charcoal BBQ grills outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, enclosed patios and garages, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

Never place the grill close to siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. These kinds of things can ignite faster than most people realize.

Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic, and certainly keep children and pets from the grilling area.

Have several long-handled grilling tools on hand to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking. Also remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill to prevent a fire from being ignited by a hot grill.

Charcoal Grills

Always purchase starter fluid specifically made for charcoal and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources. Never add the fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited. Propane Grills

Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year and regularly throughout the grilling season. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles. Loose propane could cause an unexpected fire or even an explosion.

If you find a leak turn off the propane tank and grill. If the leak stops it needs repair by someone who is a professional. If you can still smell or detect gas clear the area and call the fire department. Even small cylinders can be dangerous, so act accordingly.

All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel. Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory and make sure you follow the manufacturers' instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

When storing a grill in the fall never store the propane cylinders in buildings or garages. Always keep cylinders outside. Fire Pits

In recent years, there has been a new interest in recreational fires in fire pits. Fire pits are known to be a great source of warmth and ambience. Unfortunately with the popularity of fire pits increasing, fire safety has become even more important.

First, keep flammable material and fluids such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid or vehicles while in use away from fire pits.

Position any fire pit at least 12' away from any structure or combustible fence. Also before you light the fire, check the wind direction. Remember, you are responsible for the smoke you create. While you may enjoy the fire your neighbor may not enjoy the smoke, so be respectful of them.

A recreational fire should be not be larger than 3' wide and the flames created should not be higher than 3' high even in a fire pit.

Do not use flammable fluids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel fuel, kerosene, and charcoal lighter fluid to light or relight fires.

Keep children and pets away from fire pits. Also never wear flammable or loose fitting clothing such as nylon. It can catch fire quickly if contacted by flames.

What you burn in a fire pit is important. First it is illegal to burn trash in fire pit, Carbon County provides a no-fee landfill so dispose of trash items there. Don't burn leaves, paper or cardboard because they create floating embers which could cause a fire elsewhere. Also don't burn plywood or treated lumber, because they can give off toxic gasses. Avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar which are likely pop and throw sparks. The use of seasoned hardwood is suggested.

Before starting the fire, make sure that the lid will still close to prevent sparks from escaping and just in case keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.

Campfires are a normal part of camping and while there are times that camp fires are banned because of extreme danger, the season has not started out that way. However, currently the fire danger on State, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands is extremely high so that is a possibility later in the season in at least some places.

Having a safe campfire is a great deal about location. First don't build a fire at a site in hazardous, dry conditions. Don't build a fire if the campground, area, or event rules prohibit campfires. Use existing fire rings if there is one. If one doesn't exist and pits are allowed, look for a site that is at least "fifteen feet" away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead. Finally, never leave a campfire unattended.

Extinguishing Your Campfire

When you're ready to put out your fire and go to bed or leave, follow these campfire guidelines:

Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.Then pour a lot of water on the fire; drown all the embers, not just the red ones. Pour the water on until the hissing sound stops. Then stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel and scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers. Make sure everything is wet and embers are cold to the touch before you walk away.

If you don't have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. Don't bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.

Follow this rule. If it is too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave.

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June 14, 2012
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