It's been a busy spring for the Hotchkiss Fire District. On April 5, volunteer firefighters responded to two fires on North Road on Redlands Mesa within about six hours of each other.
At 1:30 p.m. a 911 call came in from a woman whose manufactured home had filled with smoke. According to fire chief Doug Fritz, the fire started somewhere near or at the water heater and spread to the floor of the structure. At the time, winds were averaging above 30 mph, with gusts up to 58 mph. "Fortunately, it didn't spread to agriculture buildings," which were downwind from the fire, said Fritz.
The fire displaced the residents. The unit also had no smoke detectors, said Fritz, who reminds homeowners to maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes at all times.
At 7:15 p.m., the district responded to a second fire that began in an exterior wood-fired boiler and spread to firewood stacked around the boiler. Fortunately, said Fritz, winds had died down by that time, as the fire was burning near two propane tanks and other buildings. Had the two fires both occurred at the same time during the high winds, "It could have been a lot worse."
While neither fire was a result of a controlled burn, Fritz said his department has already responded to numerous out-of-control controlled burns in the area since Feb. 1.
In addition to calling county dispatch ahead of burning, he recommends burns be complete by late morning. If winds are forecast above 20 mph, choose another day, even if you think you can be done before the winds pick up. Those conducting the burn should leave their cell phone number when they call the county burn line, and make sure they take their phone with them.
They should also have a water supply available, and if the fire does begin to spread, people should not wait too long to call 911. "Our firefighters all too frequently find landowners exhausted or even injured trying to fight an out-of-control burn without help," said Fritz.
Follow Hotchkiss Fire District on Facebook to get more information on any local burning restrictions, and to get news on local, regional and national wildfires.
The Delta County website, www.deltacounty.com, reminds citizens that burns are not to be conducted on "red flag" days "when the danger of forest or grass fire is found to be high as determined by the National Weather Service." The NWS can be found on Facebook at "U.S. National Weather Service" or at www.weather.gov. Those wanting to burn in unincorporated Delta County must notify the county in advance by calling the county burn line at 399-2955.
Two accidents involving school property are proving costly for Delta County Joint School District, district business manager Jim Ventrello reported last week. Both incidents involved uninsured drivers, forcing the school district to file claims with its insurance provider and pay deductibles of $10,000.