Yankton Firefighters Busy in 2012
by Breanna Fuss, Reporter
February 04, 2013 5:28 PM
There is snow on the ground in many places, but come spring that will change. And once again the fire danger is expected to be extremely high because of the drought conditions we experienced before winter hit. One of the hardest places hit may be the Yankton area.
For the volunteer firefighters of the Yankton Fire Department, they’ve had their work cut out for them.
“Mostly because of the drought and the vegetation fires we've been going to,” said Fire Chief Tom Kurtenbach, Yankton Fire Department.
2012 was not only dry, hot and windy, but busy.
In 2012 the Yankton Fire Department fought 44 grass and vegetation fires alone. And that's the total number of fires the department fought in 2011.
That same year, the department battled only eight grass and vegetation fires.
Kurtenbach said it was areas outside of town that had the most.
“We had actually 31 additional fires out in the rural area we dealt with,” Kurtenbach said.
He said many fires were in ditches off of busy roads like highway 50, possibly due to the improper disposal of cigarettes.
"We are having some significant issues with the discarding of smoking materials,” said Kurtenbach. “So people need to be vigilant about what they do.”
He also said the dry crop, hot temperatures and high winds made for the perfect combination to start fires in fields.
“We where having some fires that were being started by haying equipment,” said Kurtenbach.
And Kurtenbach said 2013 might not be any different.
“As we warm up in the spring, the winds start to come up and this dead vegetation starts to dry up, I think we are going to start seeing fire calls again,” Kurtenbach said.
In 2012, the Yankton Fire Department fought 86 fires, nearly double from 2011.