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October 09, 2012 05:03 PM

Fire Departments Busy With Fall Fires

Hartford, SD

You expect to see days in October when the wind is 25+ miles per hour and beating against anything that is outside.

"I just got bundled up in my coat and staying in my truck as much as I can," Austin Gasper said when asked how he is keeping warm.

On days that are nowhere near 90 degrees, some people might be surprised to see the number of fires that we have had in the area.  With the remnants of devastatingly dry winter, spring and summer still visible, the fire danger is also still present.  Gasper does not just have the harvest on his mind while he is working at the Hartford Farmer's Elevator.

"Going out in the fields when we're scouting, we're careful with our trucks and everything so we don't end up burning someone's field or harming anyone," Gasper said.

It is a widespread concern.  On October 7, crews in Sherman fought a fire that quickly spread from a van to a trailer.  In September, a bean field in Harrisburg was the site of flames.  There have been many others in between.

"They all run together.  We've just been out, had to be out a couple of days ago, we were out on a fire," Hartford Fire Chief Kelly Boysen said.

Volunteer firefighters in Hartford battled 16 fires in a span of just two weeks.

"It's been kind of a drain on equipment.  We've had two of our trucks break down this fall already," Boysen said.

As for the year, Boysen said they have responded to 230 calls since January.  Though it is down 50 from last year, he said 230 is much higher than normal years.  Boysen said you can expect the fire danger to be worse next year if we do not see a familiar sight in a few months.

"Last winter was somewhat enjoyable, but we cannot survive another winter like last winter.  We need to get the moisture to come in.  If that means 48 inches of snow, than that means 48 inches of snow," Boysen said.

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