Reducing the risk of widespread fires in dry, gusty weather

23 News at Noon
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:24 PM CDT
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NORTHERN ILLINOIS (WIFR) - The National Weather Service issues an alert letting us know that the recent dry weather and stronger winds raise the risk of any widespread fires.

Ann Wasser leads the charge at Severson Dells Nature Center in Rockford to make sure extra care is taken when dry conditions and gusty winds clash raising the risk of widespread fires.

“You want to be taking cautions, especially with anything fire,” says Wasser. “Our building is an old lodge made of wood, and we are not necessarily close to fire departments.”

In fact, the nearest fire house is a good 10 to 15 minutes away. Wasser says her employees create a barrier around the building to ensure nothing is grown close to it.

“It’s something I think for this area that we’re not necessarily used to because it’s not a caution that comes up very often.”

While Wasser says unintentional fires are rare at Severson Dells, even a spark could devastate plants and animals.

“We’ve got the rusty patched bumblebee―it’s a federally endangered species, and it could potentially burn their habitat that’s much needed for them in their species recovery.”

According to Greg Holmes, fire chief at Boone County Fire Protection District 1, breezy and dry aren’t always a good combination. Those weather conditions make it easier for fires to spread and harder to control. Chief Holmes put his team on alert. He says even brush fires can cause costly damages *and threaten lives.

“People will call us they were burning in a brush pile and maybe 50 100 feet away but when blow embers up, shingle roof, for wood shingled roof and it started with the roof on fire on a building.”

Holmes recommends we don’t burn anything right now but if you must, use common sense.

“If in doubt, call your local fire department just give them a heads up that you’re going to burn and take their advice.”

Chief Holmes says the District 1 fire department in Capron is all volunteer, so it could take some time for help to arrive if there is a fire.

Wasser also warns cigarette smokers to be careful about where they flick their ashes because those could unintentionally start a fire.