Hot, dry weather causes trouble for firefighters

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With all of the leaves down, your first inclination may be to grab the rake, put them in a pile and light them up.

Bad idea.

“With it being as dry as it is, if you’re burning next to a field, you’re going to get the chance that you’ll start a wildland fire or a grass fire,” Walker Fire Chief Bob Walker said.

Many communities, like Walker, have rules against burning leaves, so along with the hassle of having scorched earth as a result of a fire that got away, you may have to pay a fine.

Dry leaves and other yard waste isn’t the only concern firefighters have because of the recent hot, dry conditions in West Michigan.

“Going down the road, people take cigarette butts, where all year long they’d finish them and just throw them outside, they’re tossing it out now and with as dry as everything is, they’re starting grass fires that way,” Walker said.

Tuesday, Newaygo County Emergency Services officials advised no open burning is allowed in the county because of an “extreme fire danger.” The agency warned that anyone who violates the state law and burns without a permit will be responsible for damages if the fire spreads.

>>MAP: Current burn permit conditions by county

There’s an additional strain on firefighters when they have to go to work in this heat. It was 67 degrees at 6 a.m. Monday when Grand Rapids crews battled a house fire on the city’s southwest side. Wearing close to a hundred pounds of gear in conditions like this puts more physical stress on firefighters — and more stress on the system.

“Consequently, we’re sending more and more people in to do the job that normally we probably wouldn’t have to send as many people in,” Walker said.

So the message is that until it cools down and we get some rain, use some common sense.