Fire District warns to obey fire regulations after several grass fires
April 4, 2019
WORLAND – Due to half a dozen grass fires across the county in the last week, Worland Fire District Chief Chris Kocher reminds residents to review the county fire regulations, currently posted on the county website.
“The big issue is everything is dormant right now, so all the fuels [grass, brush] will burn readily,” said Kocher. “Don’t take it for granted that it won’t burn because of the recent snowmelt.”
While residents are anxious to get out in the warmer weather and burn trash of lawn materials, or start weed mitigation, Kocher wants people to remember that they could be held accountable for fire damage.
“Residents are required to call before burning, and if they don’t, they could face a fine if they don’t” said Kocher.
Current burn regulations, adopted in 2016, indicate that residents should contact the county dispatch center at (307) 347-2242 and notify before burning, and include the location of the burn and the type of material being burned.
Official burn times are from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m., and no fires should be started if winds exceed 15 miles per hour.
If residents wish to attempt a controlled burn, Kocher advises having people on standby to help.
“You should always have the appropriate tools and people in place before attempting a burn,” said Kocher.
This year, the National Weather Service (NWS) is encouraging people to stay safe and “Learn Before You Burn!”
“Frequently, our calm mornings turn breezy to windy during the afternoon,” said Tim Troutman of the National Weather Service Riverton office. “Having an up-to-date wind speed and direction forecast can help you decide whether or not dropping the match is worth the risk.”
Troutman said federal and state land management agencies routinely obtain weather forecasts from the NWS, and citizens should do the same. The Riverton NWS office can be contacted 24 hours a day by phone at 1-800-211-1448.
Area-specific forecasts are also available online at weather.gov/riverton or on smart phones at mobile.weather.gov. Highway conditions and remote weather information are available at wyoroad.info.
Citizens conducting a field burn are not only responsible for what happens on their own property, they may also be held criminally and civilly liable from damages to federal and state property.
This includes, but is not limited to, right-of-way fencing, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation District Engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin.
“From WYDOT’s perspective, the safety of the traveling public, workers and volunteers in the rights-of-way is first and foremost in decisions made regarding activity on or along the state highway system,” said Hallsten. “The situation of burning highway rights-of-way generates safety concerns for the traveling public by the potential of limited visibility caused by low-hanging smoke and damage to fences, signs, sign posts, guardrail and permitted utilities. Damage to any of these items may increase the potential for a crash or otherwise jeopardize the safety of the highway user.”
Landowners, conservation districts, and others who plan to conduct prescribed burning activities are strongly encouraged to check the latest weather forecast by calling the National Weather Service toll-free at 1-800-211-1448. They should inform local government officials, including county sheriffs’ offices of burn plans as well.