Windy and dry weather causing grass fires - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Windy and dry weather causing grass fires

Dubuque County (KWWL) -- A rise in wind and farmers clearing fields is causing a problem for rural fire departments. At least three area counties report increasing brush and grass fires getting out of control.

Wildfire prevention finds that grass fires move at up to 14-miles an hour, so a mile could be lost in less than 5-minutes to a grass fire. The top three causes of grass fires include lightning, human carelessness, and arson.

Fire departments around Dubuque County say they've responded to an increased amount of grass fire calls in the last month.

"In the last 30 days here in Cascade, we've had nine grassfires," Cascade Fire Chief Rick Kremer said.

At the Cascade Volunteer Fre Dpartment calls are getting more frequent as people are cleaning up outside often burning debris.

"W have quite a bit of windy conditions, so it tends to push the fire a lot faster than what they anticipate," Kremer said. "With the time of year, if we get a call like that, everybody responds, because, hey, you know, with the windy conditions it can get quite a ways in a short time."

But, extra calls can be a problem, especially for volunteer fire departments.

"A lot of times, you have people that'll be driving down the road, and they'll see a big fire going in the field, and they don't really see anybody around it, so they get concerned and they call 911, so we call the fire department out, and they go running out to a fire that is actually a controlled burn," Dubuque County Sheriff Ken Runde said.

That's part of the reason a county law requires you to call dispatch before you burn. Not calling can land you a hundred dollar fine or up to 30 days in jail for each day you burn.

"It sure is helpful if you do notify dispatch, if you do pay attention to weather conditions... So that it isn't putting people in unessesary danger, and the fact that people have to leave work to respond to these calls," Kremer said.

In Dubuque County, before you burn, that number to call is 563-583-1711. In Dubuque City Limits, it is illegal to do controlled burns, except for proper recreational fires like camp fires.

Just north of Dubuque County, Clayton County is currently under a burn ban.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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