Weeds, wind and fire

It’s the burning season in Mesa County, when ditches, fields and backyard organic material may legally be burned. But just because open burning is legal doesn’t mean every day is appropriate for burning.

Witness the fire on the Redlands Wednesday that forced the evacuation of numerous homes, closed Colorado Highway 340 for hours and narrowly missed burning a number of homes. It may have been ignited by a resident burning weeds.

Thanks to the hard work of firefighters from a half-dozen local fire agencies, led by the Grand Junction Fire Department, the fire was controlled without serious damage to structures or severe injuries to people. One firefighter suffered minor burns, and we wish that unidentified public servant a speedy recovery.

But as others throughout the valley consider burning ditches and weeds over the next couple days, they might want to first consider weather forecasts. Regular winds of 10 mph are expected today and Saturday, with gusts up to 25 mph. That may be followed by much-needed rain Sunday and Monday.

Wind and fire are a potent mix, especially when combined with the tinder-dry vegetation that exists in much of the valley. Local burners would be well-advised to wait until conditions are calmer. The results of the next conflagration might be far worse than the blaze on the Redlands Wednesday.


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