Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 25, 2014

JFPD warns of fire dangers


MT. VERNON — — Jefferson Fire Protection District has responded to more than nine field and grass fires over one weekend — and more than 30 in the past two weeks.

"It's not just us, everyone is fighting this," said JFPD Chief Mike Huntman. "Webber Township, Waltonville, Woodlawn — all the surrounding districts have been fighting a lot of field fires."

Huntman said the weather conditions are partly to blame for the rash of field fires.

"The ground is wet, so people think it's okay to burn," Huntman said. "But the grass is very dry due to the wind, and the least bit of wind will make that fire get away from someone really fast. The breeze will pick up the fire and carry it a long distance."

JFPD responded to Prairie View Estates two times last Friday — once for a small grass fire in the morning, and then to a massive fire in the afternoon which took firefighters from several departments to put out. About 30 acres were burned in the area north of Dix and south of Walnut Hill Road.

Firefighters from JFPD responded to the area a third time early Monday morning for a mobile home fire.

According to police logs, the home, located on East Garfield Road in Prairie View Estates, was fully involved when firefighters arrived at 2:50 a.m. Monday morning.

"The owners were not at home at the time of the fire," Huntman said. "It was a total loss. It was on the ground when we got there."

The cause of the fire, which destroyed the home of Charles McKinney, is undetermined. Huntman said the grass fires and the mobile home fire are unrelated.

"The main thing I want people to know is not to burn," Huntman said. "Do not burn when it's windy."

Huntman said there could be additional consequences to residents who burn and the fire gets away from them.

"You are responsible for any damage caused to others' property," Huntman said. "If you are burning, and the fire gets away from you and burns your neighbor's house or barn, your insurance, or you, will be responsible for it."