Time to be careful with fire
April 17, 2018
A little drier and a tad windier, and an out-of-control backyard burn could have turned tragic in Topaz Ranch Estates on Friday the 13th.
It hasn't been that long since a burn resulted in a wildfire that claimed two homes, 17 outbuildings and a menagerie of boats, cars, motorcycles and travel trailers.
The May 22, 2012, TRE fire started out as a controlled burn two days before it was picked up by the wind and roared through the south county community.
By the time it was extinguished, the fire burned 7,500 acres and cost $3.4 million to extinguish. That doesn't include the price tag for the property damage.
The homeowners responsible for the burn faced criminal charges in the aftermath of the fire.
It has been six years since we've had a fire do quite so much actual property damage, but that doesn't mean we couldn't see one soon.
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We've had a pretty wet spring so far, which will delay the drying season that comes with the arrival of summer.
However, March and April showers are bringing spring flowers, and spring weeds, which will start drying out as soon as it's done raining.
Between last year's record precipitation and this spring, there will be lots of fuel waiting for the slightest spark, whether that be from a backyard burn, a bullet, a hot exhaust or good-old fashioned lightning.
There's nothing we can do about the lightning, except keep a weather eye out, but there's something we can do about the sources of ignition we do control.
It's not too early to start being careful with fire whether you're burning brush at home or out in the hinterlands.