Officials worry a long, hot, dry spell could mean a busy summer for
local, area firefighters
By ROBERT S. MERRILL
There is a looming potential for fire danger this summer and autumn, unless significant moisture keeps falling during the next eight weeks.
“We could be in for a bad fire season,” said Franklin County Fire Marshal Scott Martin. “The foothills and mountains surrounding Franklin County didn’t get much snow this past winter.”
Martin said last summer was extremely dry in both the valley and the foothills. Firefighters battled blazes around Foster Reservoir and in other locations.
“Even though recent rains have really greened things up, we have some undergrowth and brush that could turn tinder-dry across the foothills and mountains,” warned Martin. But long-range predictions call for dry weather through July and some warm temperatures.
“Fire permits for open burning are now required. They can be obtained at the Fire District fire station in downtown Preston. We encourage farmers and others who may do any burning to make sure they have permits and use common sense. When it’s windy, please delay burning. The permits are needed through Oct. 15.”
The potential for wildfire is similar to recent years, when several hundred acres burned in the Riverdale, Oneida Narrows, Mink Creek and Cleveland areas, he added.
“Things will dry out quickly when we get some summer heat. People need to start thinking about what they can do now to minimize fire danger, before grasses and woody, scrub brush really start to dry out,” he said.
Martin said homeowners, especially in the Cub River and Mink Creek areas, should continue to do what is necessary to reduce fire hazards on and near their urban-wildland properties. There are a number of things homeowners can start doing now that will go a long way toward protecting property from wildfire.
• reduce surrounding wildland fuels, such as rotting logs, branches, brush and other flammable materials.
• do exterior home inspections at least once a year before intense summer heat begins.
• remove overhanging tree limbs, moss and needles from roofs and gutters.
• keep storage areas clean and tidy, never allowing rags or newspapers to accumulate. Store flammable liquids in approved containers.
• maintain a survivable space around the house. A large green lawn or area is ideal.
• remove flammable plants from around the house, especially on the side most exposed to prevailing winds and a downhill slope.
• remove nearby heavy ground vegetation and stumps.
• stack firewood away from the house.
• have an adequate water supply and pre-connect a garden hose with a nozzle and sprinkler system to access all structural exteriors, including the roof.
This story is sponsored by Franklin County Fair Board.
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