Wind conditions elevate fire risk and danger to fire crews - KOAM TV 7

Wind conditions elevate fire risk and danger to fire crews


  The risk for fires is at an elevated level across the four state viewing area -- due to low humidity and gusty winds. That can create serious hazards for fire crews.

Firefighters worked a fire on Highway 400 in Cherokee County today.  Some returning to 
 spray the attic  where flames  rekindled after first  beginning in a dryer.
Even with an interior fire wind can make fires more hazardous.

 Cherokee Township fire chief Michael Sheward says, "If somebody takes the wrong window or wrong door up its just like a blow torch."
  Assistant chief Ronald Pierce says, "Fire  breathes off the oxygen  and everything, once we just throw the water on we take the oxygen away from it but with the wind,  it just keeps going."

Fire crews say wind can be an unpredictable element when fighting fires which puts them in danger.

Pierce says, "We had the wind blowing like it  is ended up shifting on us and we had the flames and everything coming right to us. And I carry a scar on me but I'm lucky I'm still around."

 Pierce suffered second degree burns because of wind blown flames back in 2009. 
He says its especially difficult during fires in fields. 

"Being trapped when the winds blowing the flames will surround you that's already  happened once to me. We had to drive right through the flames and blast the water through," said Pierce.
Chief Sheward says, "Wind driven fires,  it really drives it. We had one mile section through  here, it drove that mile section in less than 15 minutes,  end to end with the wind shoving it.  At one time we had five departments out  there trying to slow it down and we  couldn't get close to it. The heat was so intense."

Crews say wind can cause fires to jump roads and even burn vehicles. And while they park up wind of fires, if it shifts,  the blowing smoke can also become a hazard to their breathing.   
Damage that cant always  be repaired.
     Fire officials say those considering open burns should consult their local fire departments first. 
     Fire danger is greatest in areas with dried field grasses and lots of leaf litter.



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