SIDNEY — There may be snow on the ground right now, but fire season is right around the corner.
“When the snow dries up, we are going to have grass fires. And they are dangerous,” Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said in his weekly column. “We have lost cars and had a lot of people hurt.”
In Shelby County in 2016, there were 35 grass fires; there were 25 in 2017, Lenhart reported. Grass fires are usually caused by cigarettes or cigars being thrown from vehicles, trash fires in which burning objects may blow away, or from grills that catch nearby dead grass on fire, he said.
“Grass fires are caused because the grass is so dry and with the wind blowing 10 to 15, 20, 30 mph, a fire can spread very quickly,” Lenhart noted. “We want want to prevent grass fires. Don’t throw (cigarettes) out of your car.”
He said people often wonder what they are allowed to burn, such as brush — or even an old building. He recommends asking your local fire department.
“Fires and open burning is controlled by the Ohio EPA and the local fire department,” Lenhart said. “But if you are in the city or village limits, the answer is no, (to open burns).”
However, if citizens want to have an open burn outside of the city limits, Lenhart requests the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office be notified at 937-498-1111.
Dispatchers are the ones making the call to bring in the fire department, he said. If they are unaware of an intended open burn, they will dispatch the fire department right away.
“If burning paper trash at home, be sure no debris is around the burn barrel. And the same with a barbecue or grill,” he said.
Lenhart recommends having a shovel, water or even a garden rake handy to help smother the flames of a minor grass fire.
And if an individual’s clothes were to catch fire, Lenhart recommends the three step process, STOP, DROP and ROLL to put the fire out.
If your clothes are on fire, you should stop — don’t run; drop, meaning to get down to the ground as quickly as possible; and then to roll from left to right.
He said if you are trying to help someone whose clothes are on fire, you should use a rug, blanket or a shirt, for example, to wrap around them to try and tap it out.
“But, it’s just like it has always been: stop, drop and roll,” Lenhart said. “Grass fires are dangerous. I don’t know in recent years if we have lost any people, but we have had a lot of people hurt, and we’ve lost vehicles and properties because of it.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.