Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wildfire Awareness Week: It only takes a spark

Gov. Laura Kelly has declared this week as Wildfire Awareness Week.

According to the K-State Research and Extension's website, The 2019 wildfire season may start earlier this year. The southwest and central parts of the state could even see an increase in fire weather events. Those areas have experienced extreme fires during the past few years, including the Anderson Creek and Starbuck fires. 

More than 800,000 acres burned and there was more than $80 million in property damage as a result of those events. 

While the causes for the majority of fires are accidental, there are plenty of ways you can help avoid unintentionally starting a grass fire while driving.

Double check to make sure trailer safety chains are secured. Dangling chains can get hot as they hit the pavement and cause sparks, which can ignite nearby vegetation.

Don’t park your car in tall vegetation. Emergencies happen. Sometimes you need to safely pull off to the side of the road. Be aware of your surroundings. Your car’s hot engine or exhaust system could ignite tall grass if it smolders long enough.

Check your exhaust system: Loose or damaged exhaust systems could allow small sparks to escape.

Don’t throw cigarette butts out of your vehicle. Cigarettes are manufactured to burn slowly. When thrown out of car windows, they have the potential to ignite dry grass and brush hours after being tossed out of a moving car. 

Wildfires and grass fires along the side of the roads are serious and can impede traffic due to lack of visibility. Taking these preventative steps could keep you and other travelers safe.

For more information on how to avoid wildfires check out this website.

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