GRANGEVILLE – “At this time of year, people need to be aware before they put a match to their grass,” advised Chief Bob Mager, Grangeville Rural Fire Department (GRFD).
Firefighters were busy Saturday afternoon, March 21, responding to back-to-back field fires just outside Grangeville. No serious damage or injuries were reported, and burned acreage in each was kept to 10 acres or less.
Between three to four acres were burned in a fire reported at 3:22 p.m. off Long Haul Road. According to Mager, a field burn on private property got out of control, and a backburn to counter this resulted in the fire moving onto Idaho County property just east of the airport.
Three pieces of equipment, and eight firefighters responded. Several fenceposts in the ditchline, along with erosion waddles at the end of the runway, were damaged.
As crews were containing the last of this incident, at 3:58 p.m. another field fire was reported off Fish Hatchery Road, just south of Bear Den RV Park. According to Mager, a grass burn on private property got out of control due to a wind shift to the south.
Four pieces of equipment, and 10 to 12 firefighters were dispatched to this location, with the fire burning largely on a rocky slope among wild rosebushes. A Forest Service vehicle and personnel arrived as GRFD crews caught this blaze, and assisted in securing the perimeter from further spread. Eight to 10 acres were burnt in this incident, with no damage reported.
Firefighters were occupied on these incidents a total three hours. Essentially controlled, the Long Haul fire was monitored by the airport manager until crews returned to evaluate the scene for any outstanding hotspots.
“People need to be paying attention when they decide to light,” Mager said. Conditions may be drier than expected, weather may change, and in the event it escapes someone, they may not have the equipment or people to control it.
“A simple lawn mower is a better choice to clean up grass than fire is,” he said.