It may not seem possible with the snow, bitter winds, and wet ground all around us; but natural cover fires remain a real threat even at this time of year. Natural cover fires consume hundreds if not thousands of acres each year in Lebanon and Laclede County. In addition personal property including homes, outbuildings, vehicles, and farm implements are damaged or lost to such fires.
Many of these fires are started by carelessness. Throwing a cigarette or other burning material from a vehicle and open burning which is left unattended are often the cause of natural cover fires. Equipment failures such as a hotbox on a railcar or sparks from damaged utility systems can ignite a natural cover fire. Arson is also a major contributing factor of natural cover fires.
Natural cover fires can move quickly, consuming any combustible material in their path. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your personal property:
- Maintain a 30 foot home ignition zone around your home and structures such as the deck.
- Mow the lawn regularly and prune trees six to ten feet off the ground.
- Create a “fire-free” area within five feet of your home using non-flammable landscaping and high moisture perennials.
- Don’t park vehicles, trailers, boats, or other equipment over tall grass or in wooded areas.
- Consider fire resistant materials for patio furniture, swing sets, and other outdoor items.
- Do not burn on windy days.
- Burn only in a burn barrel with a spark arrestor on top. If you must burn in the open, utilize a small fire which you could quickly extinguish if needed.
- Never leave an open fire or burn barrel unattended. And make sure you have a water source immediately available.
Should a natural cover fire start on or endanger your property dial 911 as soon as possible. Remember these fires can move quickly causing damage to not only your property but your neighbors as well.
Within the City of Lebanon there are regulations pertaining to burning:
- You cannot burn household trash or other waste.
- You may burn grass clippings and other yard debris.
- Controlled fires must be 25 to 50 feet away from any structure, attended at all times, and a water source such as a garden hose must be readily available.
For more information on how to protect your home and property from the dangers of a natural cover fire please visit www.firewise.org
or contact your local fire department.