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Wind-whipped brush fires keep crews busy

A fire burned an acre off Ingleside Road Wednesday. Forestry officials say conditions are right for brush fires and urge residents to be careful when burning debris. Jenny Walling / LTN Photo

A discarded cigarette is being blamed for a fire that burned close to an acre of land in east Lincoln County Wednesday.
Crews from East Lincoln, Denver and Alexis fire departments responded to the blaze on South Ingleside Road that was reported around 2:30 p.m., County Ranger Elizabeth Snyder said.
It took about an hour to get the fire under control. The area was thickly wooded and difficult for firefighters to access, Snyder said.
The Forestry Service brought in a tractor to plow a line around the area, she said. That saved the fire departments time since they didn’t have to rake by hand.
Dry grass combined with low humidity and wind made conditions right for brush fires Wednesday, Snyder said.
“Most people don’t realize that it’s gotten that dry,” she said.
Humidity dipping into the low 20s and upper teens can dry out broomstraw and grass in about an hour, she said.
“Then you put a small amount of wind behind that, and the fire spreads quickly,” she said. “That’s what has caught people unaware.”
With the weather being warm, many residents are cleaning their yards and wanting to dispose of small limbs and debris left over from past storms, Snyder said.
She cautions residents to go through the proper channels to obtain burning permits and then take safety precautions after starting the fire.
“We just encourage them to please have their water on hand before they start the fire,” Snyder said. “And make sure it is fully extinguished before they leave.”
Several smaller brush fires started Wednesday and Thursday along railroad tracks in the county.
Railroad workers were doing an annual grinding operation on the tracks, Snyder said. While they had water available, some sparks caused dry grass to catch on fire.
Those fires were confined to areas along the track, she said.Lincoln County has seen 35 brush fires so far this year. That’s more than the entire year of 2003 when there were 32 reported. by Alice Smith

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