Grass fire dangers rising

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Wichita firefighters battle a grass fire along I-135 on Thanksgiving afternoon. Wichita firefighters battle a grass fire along I-135 on Thanksgiving afternoon.

A series of grass fires kept Wichita firefighters busy this Thanksgiving Day and the danger is climbing.

"Most likely a discarded cigarette," said Capt. Pete Ridder, Wichita Fire Department.  He's describing the probable cause of a grass fire along I-135 near MacArthur Thursday afternoon.

A comparatively small fire, it caused little overall damage.  But it kept firefighters busy on the holiday.  They say they don't mind.

"If we're out working, that's somebody's bad day," said Ridder.  He'd rather be helping out.

Despite recent rains they say the weather is ripe for more grass fires

"Even though it's early in the year,  we've had moisture that has helped the vegetation grow, but now it's gone dormant and it's dying off," Ridder explained.

 Lots of dead vegetation combined with increasing winds equals bad news. "Currently, this one, what helped us is the winds have not started blowing as hard as they're going to do this afternoon."

The winds not only further dry out dead plants creating more fuel, they also help spread fires once sparked.  Firefighters say you can help prevent future fires which, if not caught as quickly, could cause a lot more damage.

"A lot of turkeys are being smoked today on the grill.  Be careful of your charcoal," said Ridder.  The best bet is to completely drown the charcoal in water.  He adds, "Keep your cigarettes inside your vehicles.  Don't throw them out on the side of the road."

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