The Bitterroot Valley's volunteer fire departments have been busy with calls to out-of-control grass fires the past few days. It's an annual activity here, which locals call "fencepost-burning season." It's not that people set out planning to burn down fences, but it occasionally turns out that way.
As we do every year in the spring, KLYQ would like to give you some tips about burning fields and ditchbanks, in no particular order.
These are just common sense observations from years of reporting spring grass fires. When in doubt, refer to Tip Number 5.
1) Don't burn in the afternoons. Valley winds in the spring always are most unpredictable later in the day.
2) Have a ready supply of water and helpful neighbors. In fact, plan a neighborhood "burn," where you and your neighbors tackle your projects together.
3) Call the authorities BEFORE you burn. They know if the weather conditions prohibit your burn. And another reason, a passing motorist can see the flames and call 9-1-1 without you knowing. If 9-1-1 doesn't know anything about what you're come the firemen.
4) If the fire DOES get out of control, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. You are responsible for damage on other peoples' property from a fire you've started. That could be expensive.
5) Ask a firemen before you burn. They have great advice and can sometimes schedule a time when they can come help. They are volunteers, though, so be respectful of their time.
6) Be safe! Don't take chances.