Today, a hazardous weather advisory warns of increasing winds and dry conditions that could cause fires to spread quickly. If you’ve bought a permit and are planning a controlled burn, or if you’re outside working with machinery that could cause sparks, be aware of the conditions, and always be ready to extinguish a fire.
The Grand Junction Fire Department recommends conducting your controlled burn in the early mornings when winds are calm. Spokesperson Ellis Thompson-Ellis said, “We generally see winds increasing in the early afternoon and evening here that can spread fire very quickly.” Residents can check www.weather.gov for the latest up-to-date information on fire danger, including red flag warnings which prohibit burning of any kind.
Due to these persisting conditions in the Grand Valley, brush fire calls are up from last year. For the month of March, the Grand Junction Fire Department is on-pace to see nearly three times as many brush fires as last year. Yesterday, between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Mesa County saw 15 brush fires, with up to six occurring simultaneously. Those 15 fires involved 11 different fire agencies, with 71 fire vehicles responding. Thompson-Ellis said, “The whole valley is very busy right now. We need people to exercise extreme caution, especially when conducting controlled burns. Have experienced people assist you and be ready to put out a fire in case it gets out of control.”
At one of the fires yesterday, two homes were in immediate danger and had to be evacuated. Fortunately, no one was harmed and no structures were damaged. With these conditions residents can increase the safety of their homes by clearing away underbrush, shrubbery, and trees that grow directly next to their homes. In the event of a fire, having a clear perimeter around your home allows the fire department to better protect your property.
Controlled burning with a permit is allowed through April 30th. Permitted burning must be 50 feet from property lines, and only contain materials less than one inch in diameter. Residents in the City of Grand Junction can call (970)549-5800 for burn permit information. All residents outside the City of Grand Junction can contact the Mesa County Health Department for burn permit information at (970)248-6900.