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Oxford

Hot, Dry Weather Could Lead to Increase of Wildfires

By Kristopher Storey
Hottytoddy.com Intern
kostorey@go.olemiss.edu

With higher-than-average temperatures this month, coupled with a lack of rain, local firefighters are on alert.

However, local fire officials say so far, Oxford and Lafayette County have been spared from serious fires related to the hot and dry weather.

Firefighter and member of the Lafayette County Fire Board of Directors, Keveon Taylor, said while there has not been an increase in wildfires, the slightest thing could spark one.

It isn’t uncommon for fires to increase during dry conditions. During conditions like these, something as simple as a chain dragging behind a truck could throw sparks into dry grass and start fires,” Taylor said.

Taylor is also a University of Mississippi graduate and currently in his first year of law school.

According to The Weather Channel, the temperature has reached more than 90 degrees every day for more than half of September.

Heavy rains in the spring have left Oxford 8 inches above yearly rainfall totals, according to the National Weather Service. However, August saw 2 inches below-average rainfall and September has been exceptionally dry.

This is a call for more caution with such dry grass and lack of rain. Taylor talks about being more cautious could help prevent fires.

The number one thing to be cautious of during high temperatures and dry conditions is the potential for grass/brush fires,” Taylor said. “While seemingly harmless, grass/brush fires can, and often do, pose significant risks to exposures. Whether it’s someone’s home or vehicle, a brush fire can cause devastating damage. When grass is dry, it is easily ignitable and can spread almost instantaneously.”

Current University of Mississippi student and firefighter, Patrick Mastro, said cars can be a danger when temperatures are this high and the land is dry.

With high temperatures and dry conditions people should be very cautious when operating any sort of motorized vehicle when in or around dry grass or brush,” Mastro said. “Remaining in the same spot for extended periods of time can cause the surrounding grass to ignite due to the heat given off by the motor.”

The Oxford and Lafayette County fire departments both stay prepared no matter what the weather is, but with the 90-plus degree heat lately, they make sure to have cold drinking water on the trucks.

We always ensure that we have cold drinking water on each of our apparatuses to ensure that when we are called, we have enough water to sustain our most important asset, our firefighters,” Taylor said.

The firefighters make sure that they are in top physical condition, so that no matter when they get the call, they will be ready for whatever is thrown their way.

The high temperatures make for a more difficult work environment,” Mastro said. “We train hard to physically condition ourselves to operate in these environments.”


 

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