After a busy weekend of fires, be cautious when burning

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The first weekend of spring found many of us outside, enjoying the chance to get out in the warm sunshine or starting yard work. But for Powell firemen, much of the weekend was spent fighting fires.
From Friday afternoon through Sunday, the Powell Volunteer Fire Department responded to nine fires. Some of those calls came back to back on Saturday, so they went from one grass fire to the next.
While out-of-control burns are a sure sign of spring in Wyoming, it’s important to stop and recognize the firemen who faithfully respond to each fire whistle. They must put their weekend plans on hold, whether it’s leisure time with family and friends or projects around their own homes. When you consider that all of our local firemen are volunteers, it makes their service even more appreciated.
Even when taking every precaution, some fires will get out of control. But it’s important for landowners to take certain steps before beginning an agricultural burn. To start with, call the Park County Dispatch Center at 754-8700 or 307-527-8700 to let them know you’re planning to burn. If a fire is left unattended in the Powell area and dispatchers haven’t been notified that it’s a controlled burn, the fire department will put it out.
Also, be sure to get an up-to-date forecast on the wind speed and direction — a calm morning can quickly turn into a windy afternoon. Area-specific forecasts are available online at www.weather.gov/riverton or on smart phones at www.mobile.weather.gov or by calling 1-800-211-1448.
As Wyomingites know, winds can quickly shift, so don’t count on the wind to be consistent.
In case conditions worsen, it’s important to keep the burn area small and not to ignite more than can be safely controlled. Create a fuel break around anything that you’re not intending to burn, such as structures or irrigation pipe.
Keep monitoring a fire until all flames are extinguished, and never leave it burning overnight when it’s unattended.
If a blaze is getting out of control, call 911 and stay out of harm’s way. You can rest assured that dedicated firemen will soon be there to help — as always.

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