Burns make busy weekend for fire department


While many enjoyed the first weekend of spring with family and watching basketball tournaments, a group of volunteers was busy racing from one emergency call to the next.

Powell firefighters had a busy weekend, answering nine separate fire calls.

“It does make it tough for guys that want to be with their families,” said Powell Fire Chief Cory Baker, but the department didn’t have any trouble getting manpower out to fight fires.

All but one were for out of control grass fires. The exception was a fire that burned through a large shed at 646 Lane 7 on Saturday, shortly before 4 p.m. Firefighters suspect an electrical issue was the cause.
An electrical pole also caught fire at 4:12 p.m. Sunday near 1173 Lane 8, igniting after a grass fire.

Landowners typically spend the early part of spring burning field debris and around the margins until irrigation water starts flowing, Baker said. He expects to see more calls for assistance through the middle of April. One of the best tips Baker offers is, if there’s any doubt about the fire being in control, give the department a call.

“As fast as the wind changes around here, things can get out of control quickly,” he said.

Those wishing to conduct a controlled burn need to first call the Park County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at 754-8700.

In 2018, the sheriff’s office issued controlled burn “permits” for 3,213 fires — including 1,818 in the Powell/Garland/Ralston/Clark area.

Baker suggests checking the weather for high wind warnings and planning to have the burn done by 1 p.m. Wind comes up in the later hours, changing directions often, he said. To help control the flames, he suggests discing or raking around the perimeter of the burn area to create a fire break.

While burning, Baker said to have plenty of water and equipment for the size of the burn and to stay with the fire the entire time until fully extinguished. Then he hopes those doing controlled burns will call dispatch to let them know the fire is out.

“If they don’t call when it’s over and it flares back up, dispatch won’t know to page us right away,” Baker said.

Those looking to burn can always call the National Weather Service for updated forecasts at 800-211-1448. The Weather Service recommends you ensure neighbors are aware of controlled burns. For more information on controlled burns, visit www.weather.gov/riw/agburning.