Area fire crews busy with grass, cornfield fires - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Area fire crews busy with grass, cornfield fires

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(04/21/14) - This is a time of year when people are getting rid of brush and other debris collected after a long winter.

Some do it by burning the brush, and even though we got heavy rains last week, some parts of Mid-Michigan are a bit dry.

With a little wind, it doesn't take long for a fire to get out of hand.

Errol Ross was doing what a number of rural Mid-Michigan residents do each spring - burning some brush and other garbage that collected over the long winter. Everything was going OK at his Birch Run Township farm, until the wind picked up a bit.

"There must a little bit of cardboard in there I believe, the cardboard sailed out into the field," he said.

Out into the cornfield, several feet from where Ross started the controlled burn, there was another field, smack dab in the middle of his cornfield, not far from woods and other homes. Ross and a family member went out in the cornfield.

"We went out there with shovels, we couldn't get it under control, so we called the fire department," Ross said.

The Birch Run Township Fire Department was the first to respond. Lieutenant Larry Kiefer was thankful the wind wasn't too strong.

"If it would have been stronger, it probably would have gotten into the woods, because we already had three departments out here with us, and knocked it down pretty fast, but it very well could have got into the woods, and it's harder to fight than a field fire," he said.

Kiefer says anyone who wants to burn brush and debris have to get a burning permit from their local township office. It's free and it helps the fire department before they arrive on the scene.

"They send a copy of the burn permit over to our fire department, so we knew if we get a call, if they are burning brush, fields, ditches, whatever," Kiefer said.

Ross is glad the fire department responded quickly, and he's glad he had a burning permit.

"I could have got in more trouble, too, maybe," he said.

 If you burn debris and don't have a permit, and the fire department has to come and put out the fire, you could get a ticket or a more severe consequence if the fire does significant damage.

Also Monday, in Saginaw County's Marion Township, a field fire on South Merrill Road, near Ithaca Road, burned for nearly an hour before crews were able to get it under control. Fire departments from two counties helped out.
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