Prepare for fire season: Weather, safety and awareness can help save your land

File photo
Firefighters extinguish remaining embers from a grass fire near Wulff Road last September.

By Melissa Peterson

The weather this winter has been unseasonably cold, dry and of course, windy.
More than once the temperature in Converse County has reached well below freezing, even dipping into ranges of -24 degrees back in February. A few major snowstorms have occurred, but those who have lived here for the better part of their lives, say the average snow accumulation has been low compared to past years.
Even with the cold weather, it is the time of year to start being aware of wildfires as well as continuing to take preventive measures against structure fires. According to the Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety; 83 percent of fire-related deaths happen within homes and structures. Some of the major factors are the dry air, use of space heaters and fireplaces which are not always in use during the rest of the year.
Typically, fire danger season does not arise until June and July, still, the weather that we are currently experiencing can have major effects on the upcoming fire season. Current climate predictions from the National Weather Service out of Cheyenne show that current weather patterns might raise some concern for increased fire danger as we get closer to summer.
“At this point, the fuels that we look at that burn are not favorable right now, the moisture that we look at is dry for rapid development,” Meteorologist Mike Jamski said.
Their data shows low moisture and high wind levels. Taking linear patterns, they have compiled from the last few years the spring looks to be high in temperature and low in precipitation. As spring and summer approach though, the linear pattern can always change, and spring rains can bring enough moisture to keep the fire danger low. With that, they see no current reason to raise the fire danger, as it can immediately change with the arrival of spring.
In other parts of Wyoming though, the story is different. The National Weather Service in Cheyenne has recently seen increased fire danger closer to the Nebraska border; if the weather continues to be dry, cold and windy, they will continue on the course of high fire danger for the region.
Closer to home, the Glenrock Volunteer Fire Department has already begun to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season. In Glenrock Monday night, the GVFD took their yearly wildfire prevention course to give the team a refresher as they get back to fighting and preventing the spread of wildfires. They have also been increasing their training for grassland and structure fires and making sure the trucks are in top condition.
More than anything, GVFD Chief Jeff Nelson reminds Converse County residents that no matter what time of year it is, to always be aware of any smoke or anything indicating a fire. Even back in December 2017, they responded to a grass fire outside of Glenrock and later on that night it snowed, increasing the moisture content.
“If you see something and it looks out of the ordinary, the best thing we can do is get there early,” Nelson said.
Currently, though, the department is seeing a lot of Glenrock residents burning trash outside. He reminds people if this is something you are doing, or even might do, to make sure you have a defensible space surrounding any structures on your property near the open flames. It’s important to keep tall grass and plants maintained; especially near a structure and make sure there is nothing around the flames that could easily be ignited or carry the fire.
“We can save a lot of burnt country if we get there quick and get the calls,” Nelson added. “We would rather send a truck out and it is a dust devil rather than not sending it out and it be a raging fire.”

If you’re looking for a resource on tips for any kind of fire or preventive measures you can take, the American Red Cross has compiled a list you can keep handy; especially if you live in a wildfire-prone region. Here are some tips on how to reduce the chance of wildfire from via
• Only burn yard waste or rubbish in a 50-gallon drum or fire pit.
• Never leave a fire unattended.
• Always make sure your fire is completely doused with water or smothered with dirt before leaving.
• Don’t burn yard waste or rubbish unless it’s allowed by your municipality.
• Don’t burn anything highly combustible, including paper or fabric soaked in oil or gasoline.
Tips on how to stop fires from spreading:
• Create a defensible space around your home by using the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) zone concept.
• Choose fire-resistant plants. Consult a landscaper in your area or this state-by-state list of fire-resistant plants at the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire wise website.
• Create empty space between shrubs and trees to reduce the chance of flames leaping between them.
• Prune trees above the height of bushes and shrubs (approximately 6-10 inches off the ground) and remove dead branches.
• Mow grassy areas regularly so that the grass is never more than 4 inches high.
• Remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire as well as fallen leaves, pine cones and other dry plant material.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

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