The National Weather Service has issued a “Red Flag” warning for most of northern Illinois, out of fear that strong winds, dry conditions and warm temperatures have created a perfect opportunity for fires to quickly get out of control.
“There’s been a huge uptick in the number of grass of field fires that we’ve had,” said Win-Bur-Sew Fire Protection District Chief Robert Martin. “With that warning, we’re asking everybody to please refrain from burning. We need some moisture.”
Fire crews have been working on field or grass fire at least twice a week. Just last Wednesday, a fire in Cherry Valley, near Baumann Park, scorched 5 acres of land before it was brought under control. In that case, the fire reportedly started when the homeowner was burning yard waste and the wind caught the embers and carried them into the field.
On Sunday, a farmer in rural Winnebago County was burning a portion of his field when the fire got out of control.
“Wind conditions…spreads the fire,” Chief Martin said. “Then, the fire can grow very quickly and move towards areas, like structures or vehicles.”
Chief Martin says the fires aren’t very easy for the fire department to contain.
“Some of the challenges we have are access issues,” he said. “We have a four-wheel drive vehicle that can aid us in getting to these fires a lot of times.”
Once the fire spreads, Rockford Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Coordinator, Tim Morris, says whoever set it is responsible for the damage it causes.
“Whether it’s your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s car — God forbid somebody gets hurt — that responsibility falls on you,” Morris said. “And, not necessarily does your home owner’s insurance cover that act.”