Spring yard work protects home from brush fires
On a nice day, it’s tempting to head out for a walk or hop on the bike, but it might be best to take a day to clean the yard.
With weather improving, it’s time to start clearing leaves and brush around homes, Fire Chief Steve Sims said. Raking, cleaning gutters and pruning trees, he said, helps not only with aesthetics, but also fire safety.
In Bella Vista, he said, a wild fire could prove a significant threat, but having a nicely-cleared 30-foot perimeter around a house can drastically reduce the likelihood that a fire could spread to the house.
“You get good, defensible space around your house,” he said, “(and) that fire’s going to burn up to that short grass and slow down or stop.”
In the case of a brush fire off Spencer Lane on March 20, he said, a substantial fire did not reach the only nearby home primarily because the area surrounding the house was cleared.
It is important, he said, to keep an eye out for snakes while cleaning, because this is about the time they start to come out to make new friends. Additionally, he said, it’s worth spraying for ticks and chiggers.
Additionally, he said, people need to be careful not to start fires.
Some brush fires over the past few weeks, he said, have been caused by fireplace ashes, dumped charcoal and burn barrels.
He said that anyone intending to have a controlled burn needs to call the dispatch at 479-855-3771 to ensure there isn’t a burn ban in place. He talks to dispatchers every day, he said, when the department decides whether the weather is appropriate for controlled burns.
Controlled burns, he said, can only be used to dispose of yard debris, such as leaves and limbs. Lumber and trash, he said, are not permitted, with the exception of lumber used on cold, winter days for a warming fire.
Anyone performing burn, he said, needs to be cautious and do it right. They need to keep an eye on it the entire time, he said, and have a rake and hose ready to keep it contained.
Additionally, he said, once something is no longer being burned, it’s important to make sure it’s out, particularly before disposal.
“A lot of people think it’s out,” Sims said, “but that charcoal can stay hot.”
Anyone preparing to get rid of charcoal, fireplace ashes, cigarette butts or any other sort of burnt material, he said, should wet that material before discarding it to ensure there are no smoldering embers hiding among the ashes.
Disposal, he said, should be done in a metal container. He advised against using plastic or cardboard because both materials can catch fire.
Bella Vista, he said, is a Firewise Community, and anyone interested in more details on Firewise, a National Fire Prevention Association program, can read more at www.firewise.org.