Brush fire injuries rise rapidly

KIMT News 3 – Temperatures are warming up, that means the threat of brush fires is also on the rise.

The ground is dry, the winds are high and while this may seem like a nice mild day, it’s the perfect storm for brush fires.

Eric Whipple, Chief Fire Fighter with the Charles City Fire Department says they’ve already received their fair share of calls.

“That’s one of the main concerns that we have when we have dry stretches of weather is we’re usually called out for grass fires or ditch fires that are out-of-control,” said Whipple.

Between February and April this year, the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center has seen an alarming number of brush fire related injures including three fatalities.

“I think people probably think that they can burn in open rural areas and they can, but safety should be of paramount concern,” said Whipple.

In many cities in our area, open burning is confined to just natural wood, small waste or small recreational fires like bond-fires, or they may be off-limits all together.

While some restrictions may be relaxed in more rural communities, there are some things you can’t burn in order to protect the environment.

“The reason that open burning is expressly prohibited is that in many cases it has the potential to release toxic gases and particular matter into the air which can exacerbate respiratory conditions and contributes to air and water pollution,” said David Miller, environmental specialist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Tires, shoes, treated wood, they’re all items restricted from open burning, but these are just an example of potential risks you should consider if you do plan on burning this season.

“Burn responsibly. Make sure that you understand what is allowed to be burned and what isn’t allowed to be burned. Use good judgment, keep children and pets away from the fire and make sure that you don’t burn on really windy days and that you have your fire under control,” said Miller.

Chief Whipple reminds us that there is a difference between what you can and cannot burn in the city compared to the rural parts of town.

Before you begin burning, make sure to check with your local city ordinances.

Here are a few city ordinances in our area dealing with open burning:

-Austin: No open burning except by permit. Permits shall not be issued for open burning of leaves. Fires for food preparation are allowed without a permit.

-Albert Lea: No open burning except by permit. Small recreational burning allowed.

-Mason City: No open burning. Small recreational burning allowed.

-Rochester: No open burning. Small recreational burning allowed.

All fires require some type of supervision and fire officials urge us all to be responsible when it comes to igniting the flames with fuel like gasoline or diesel.

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