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Avoiding Summer Grass Fires

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

In many parts of the United States, especially during summers as dry as recent ones, officials are urging caution when operating lawn machinery around dry grass.

In the Midwest and mountain states, officials have gone as far as asking farm equipment operators to carry a fire extinguisher with them when working with a lawn or field grasses.
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Avoiding Grass Fires

"It's always a good idea to have something on your tractor or swather that will enable you to put out a fire," said Hamilton fire chief Ron Ehli, according to the Ravilli Republic, a Montana newspaper.

Ehli said special restrictions already exist in forested areas which limit the times of day a person can operate chainsaws and other equipment, and utility companies are required to carry water or fire extinguishers when doing work on forested lands. During extremely dry times, he says, it's wise to carry those requirements over to the home lawn.

Can Cars Cause Lawn Fire?

Cars can cause grass fires too, making some think that requiring lawn and grass gardeners to carry fire extinguishers a little extreme.

"Driving on dry grass fields with modern cars with catalytic converters is probably a bigger problem than farm machinery," said Hamilton Rural Fire District trustee Lee Foss, a rancher. Ravalli County Extension Agent Rob Johnson agrees.

"I've never even heard of hay fields catching fire," he said. "Most of them are irrigated."

Unusual Conditions Cause Unusual Measures

But Johnson said that unusually dry conditions call for unusual measures, and he suggests people operating equipment in dry grass carry water that they can move around.

Hot and dry summers make it particularly important to beware of the dangers of lawn and grass fires.


About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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