Brush fires sparking up across the Grand Valley

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- In March of 2016, the Grand Junction Fire Department responded to 15 brush fires. So far this month, stations across the Valley have surpassed that in just one day.

“Yesterday (Saturday) between 7:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. there were 15 working brush fires in the Valley,” said Ellis-Thompson Ellis, with the Grand Junction Fire department.

This year’s burn season is proving to be a busy one.

“71 apparatus responding, and 11 of our 12 agencies," said Thompson-Ellis.

This year the weather has been hot, dry and windy.

"We’ve got really dry conditions with gusting winds in the Valley, people are having their controlled burns and a gust of wind will come up and it gets out of control from there," said Thompson-Ellis.

For some, controlled burns are a routine thing this time of year.

"We're just doing a little control burn, to keep the weeds down,” said Grand Junction resident, Jeff Dutton.

Dutton knows how quickly a simple burn can turn into a disaster, "Just the wind picked up, the kids had to jump over the fence because the fire blowing toward them."

A scare that Dutton said taught him a lesson, "Go slower and make sure the perimeter is wet."

Dutton said as someone who has caused a fire, he makes sure to have someone else on site in case of an emergency.

"You get two hoses and put them on each end of the burn and keep it wet while you're burning,” said Glen Buschan, who was helping Dutton with the burning.

Buschan said timing for burns is also a key component, "You pick a time of the day it's not blowing, make sure there's no wind and if the wind picks up, you stop."

Firefighters add that besides weather, there are other things to be aware of during burn season.

“Truck with a trailer that's kind of making sparks along the road, that can get into those dry grasses and really cause a problem,” said Thompson-Ellis.

It's most important to have water on site and have an extinguishing plan. In case a fire gets out of control.

“Our firefighters are sizing up the scene, looking at the weather conditions, and trying to judge the fuel, and see how fast the fire can go,” said Thompson-Ellis.

Fires aren’t just a problem on the Western Slope, across the state they are sparking.

It’s important to make sure you have a burn permit and know that if a fire gets out of control and spreads onto someone else’s property, you could face arson charges.

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