Spring yard work pro­tects home from brush fires

The Weekly Vista - - News - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

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.

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