The Edmond Sun

January 7, 2014

Fire prevention tips for winter season

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — In August 2012, a motorist who had just come off the turnpike, was on 150th Street just west of Luther Road. He told a 911 dispatcher he saw a white male driving a black or dark blue Ford pickup truck headed east on 150th.

A fire started burning near a house.

“It’s a grass fire,” the witness said to a 911 dispatcher. “He threw somethin’ out.”

The witness said the act ignited a fire that started burning near a house. More than 2,000 acres were burned and dozens of homes were destroyed, causing millions of dollars in damage, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Myers said in a previous report.

More than 40 structures were damaged as a result of the flames, according to the sheriff’s office.

The 2013-14 fire season has begun, and the incident illustrates how easily a single act can lead to a fire that destroys homes and abruptly changes lives. Edmond fire crews have been responding to grass fire and structure fire calls.

Edmond Fire Department Fire Prevention Chief Mike Barnes said each year dormant vegetation and weather conditions including colder temperatures, high winds and low humidity contribute to a higher fire threat.

Barnes said homeowners benefit by taking precautions including fire safe landscaping, the buffer created between a building and the grass, trees, shrubs or any surrounding wildland area.

Other tips from Barnes and the Edmond Fire Department include:  

• It is advisable to avoid burning vegetative debris (sticks, leaves, etc.) during dry weather, but if you must — and if permissible — burn it in a safe incinerator that includes: Heavy mesh screen with holes not much longer than 1/4 inch, and a metal barrel in good condition. Have a hose nearby to help put out the fire if it gets out of control.

• Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup and never leave an outdoor charcoal or gas grill unattended. The grill should be placed well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Avoid placing the grill on dry grass or leaves. When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Make sure all charcoal, fireplace ashes, smoker ashes put in a metal can or bucket, soaked with water and stirred. These ashes should be left for several hours or overnight to assure they are out before discarding.

• Never throw a lighted cigarette out the window of a vehicle and never walk away from a burning cigarette and always use ash trays.

• Perform proper maintenance on agricultural equipment to prevent overheating. Grease trailer wheels, check tires and ensure safety chains are not touching the ground. Be careful with gas lanterns, barbecues, gas stoves and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire. Remember, sparks from chainsaws, welding torches and other equipment can cause wildfires.

• Perform proper maintenance on agricultural equipment to prevent overheating. Grease trailer wheels, check tires and ensure safety chains are not touching the ground. Be careful with gas lanterns, barbecues, gas stoves and anything that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire. Remember, sparks from chainsaws, welding torches and other equipment can cause wildfires.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108