All it takes is looking away for a second for a controlled burn to turn into a fire, North Custer Rural Fire Chief Larry Garey said, and that goes double during high winds.
On the morning of Sunday, March 28, a property owner on Hotsprings Road set a controlled burn. Unbeknownst to him, a weather advisory warning from the National Weather Service went out the day before, warning of high winds throughout East Idaho.
While the person who set the burn didn’t start it at peak wind speeds, which reached 65 mph overnight, Garey said a strong breeze was blowing when he and 10 other firefighters responded to the fire. About an acre of a field burned.
“It was pretty simple to put out. We weren’t out there very long,” Garey said, which is good considering how vegetation is dry.
Incidents like this are why he advises people to check weather conditions before starting a controlled burn or fire of any kind. Beyond safety, Garey said it’s an issue of courtesy. Strong winds don’t always push controlled burns into full-blown fires, but they usually blow smoke and intrude on neighbors.