Up and down temps, high wind causing trouble for local firefighters

Up and down temps, high wind causing trouble for local Firefighters

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(ABC 6 News) – This winter has been anything but ordinary and with the weather changing constantly, it’s creating some challenges for our firefighters.

From the 30s one day to the 60s the other. Mix those warmer temperatures with wind and firefighters are warning of an increased risk of fires: a red flag warning.

Because of warmer temperatures, the Rochester Fire Department had been able to start controlled burns earlier than normal.

“This year is a little bit different and we’re taking advantage of what Mother Nature has given us. We generally kind of do them a little bit more in the summertime when it’s a little bit drier out. When we usually get a pretty good burn out of it,” said Spencer Klemm, a motor operator with the Rochester Fire Department.

Related: Controlled burns in Rochester delayed

A controlled burn gives firefighters training opportunities. But with high winds and a lack of snow, the dryer ground which makes things harder.

Related: No burning order placed in SE Minnesota, high fire risk

“More problems this time of year than it normally would. We probably would have the same wind conditions and the same humidity. But more snow cover,” said Lt. Dustin Pillard with the Mason City Fire Department.

(Credit: Mason City Fire Dept.)

A red flag warning is issued by the National Weather Service.

In Mason City last week, someone left a leaf fire unattended. MCFD says the fire was at the point where it could have spread to multiple garages.

“Something that seems like they can manage, is under control, could quickly turn into something pretty significant with the wind,” added Pillard.

If you feel you absolutely need to burn something, Klemm is reminding you to take extra precautions.

“Make sure it’s in its own fire pit, out by itself, not out by any structures. Make sure you have a hose handy, and turned on and ready to go just in case it does get out of hand. You’re ready to put it out right away.”

The National Weather Service says red flag warnings are usually only during the spring and fall.