Sioux Empire Under Red Flag Warning
by Breanna Fuss, Reporter
May 14, 2013 5:43 PM
Nearly all of South Dakota and the seven state areas are under a red flag warning. That means fire danger is high. And fire officials said we may be in for a long fire season.
The high temperature and spring like weather may be nice, but it also means its fire season.
“It's a bad situation. It’s very early in the year, it’s just in to May and we've got a lot of dry growth from last year and it hasn't greened up,” said Battalion Chief Ed Van Egdom, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.
Van Egdom said in 2012 crews battled 125 grass fires. And with a high fire risk so early in the fire season, they expect to battle even more in 2013. So he has some advice for residents. The first piece is to properly dispose cigarettes.
“Don't throw that out your window,” Van Egdom said. “Don't toss that in the ditch. Put it in the ash tray in your car and take it home. Dispose of it properly.”
He also said farmers need to check their equipment before heading into fields to begin planting. And once they are out there to be prepared.
“They should have a fire extinguisher in the cab or something like that,” suggested Van Egdom. “If you're going to be doing an operation in the field and you can knock it down quick that would be great.”
And Van Egdom said don't let all the green around the Sioux Empire fool you. Just because it isn't brown, doesn't mean it isn't flammable.
“Grass can be green and burn, trees can be green and burn,” he said. “If you think about a forest fire, all those brilliant green pine trees they all burn just like tender boxes.”
So he warns for the next several months as the conditions for any type of fire are perfect, to use common sense.
“It just comes down to people being careful. Short of a lightning strike, the only thing that starts a grass fire is something people are doing,” said Van Egdom.
Typically the driest month of the year is September. In that month last year, Sioux Falls received just over 2.5 inches of rain, compared to August where we had over 3 inches.