How would you handle this? Fire danger issues.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cygnet, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,166
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Middle of nowhere along the Rim, Arizona
    Fire danger out here is extreme -- we've got knee deep dead grass and it burns like flashpaper. I had my neighbor bulldoze my yard and around my chicken coop, but the rest is still pretty flammable. Don't want it ALL bulldozed because it's wildlife habitat and I happen to LIKE seeing all the little critters, even the really weird desert bugs.

    Idiot neighbor about 400 feet away burns his trash in a pit. Okay, fine,redneck trash disposal. Most of the time, I could care less -- I'm just glad he's not dumping it on my property like another (now gone) neighbor was doing or leaving it outside for the dogs to scatter.

    Except the fire danger is outrageously high right now. I even turned my electric fence off because I'm more worried about fire than I am about loose dogs. We've had two fires in the area -- one (which I posted on before) was over a hundred acres before we got it out, and got that big in literally minutes. It's just explosively dry out there.

    But for some reason there are no burn restrictions. I do NOT understand this. But it's not yet illegal to burn things.

    My other neighbor (my friend with the bulldozer!) has already spoken to him. Apparently the guy's response was, he had insurance and he didn't care if his house burned down.

    But what about us? I've cleared enough ground around my property that I'm not worried about my house being lost -- but all the money in the world wouldn't replace my cats and dogs if the house DID burn, plus I'd lose my trees, and the smoke wouldn't do my chickens any good. I've got some very rare birds and I'm working on a line of frizzled marans and it'd take me years to get where I'm at to start over ... other neighbors in the area have horses, kennels of (show quality) dogs, goats, lots and lots of chickens, etc ... it'd be grim indeed if we get a fire going.

    Leva
     
  2. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,054
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    We get bad wildfires here too... last year, one came within four miles of where I live and the whole tiny town was pretty much shivering with dread. Thank God we have a fantastic fire fighting setup here in Arizona now. They learned a major lesson back in '02, I think it was, when a half million acres of old stand ponderosa forest burned to a crisp over in Show Low. That fire was caused by two people - an Indian who wanted to create some work for himself (he worked as a seasonal firefighter), and a Phoenix woman who got herself lost on a hike and lit a signal fire. The one that threated my town last year was caused by two visiting fishermen throwing cigarettes on the ground.

    If it's not the stupid folks that burn down the landscape, then it's the selfish ones who think they can do what they want on their property. We've had that too in this area, mainly from city people who buy property in the pines, don't have a clue what's what and won't listen to their neighbors who've been living here forever and know what you can and can't do. The county puts out lots of warning flyers and info brochures during fire season, but some people still think it doesn't apply to them as individuals.

    If there's no law/restrictions in place right now, I don't think that there's anything you or your neighbors can do to make the stupid one see the light. People like that know it all and won't listen. You could call around though and ask for information concerning this kind of thing. Out here, I'd call the sheriff's office (who puts out the fire flyers), and the forest service, and maybe a few of the surrounding fire departments. If nothing else, this gives them an idea about who's burning trash without showing much common sense in the dry conditions you're having.

    Do you get fire safety information where you are, or do you have to look it up yourself? There's some really sound advice out there. Try http://www.nifc.gov/preved/protecthome.html to start with, and maybe you could print out some of the info for your neighbors as well.
     

  3. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    799
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Wisconsin
    Fires take place because of one reason.....there is fuel for the fires.

    In times past, Native Americans would periodically burn the forest floor, which would remove brush,etc. There were small fires, more like grass fires.

    Fast forward to today. No fires take place anymore. Undergrowth of brush and tall grass is a fire hazard waiting to happen.


    The ONLY way to completely eliminate any possibility of a fire is to do a controled burn on your own. Wait until the evening hours when humidity is higher. Check the weather forecast and don't even think of doing a burn if winds of over 5 mph may occur. Have some helpers assist you with firefighting equipment on hand. Take small chunks, and do your best to keep the flames low.
     
  4. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

    Messages:
    7,380
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Location:
    east ont canada
    vera has a good idea in contacting the police and fire service> nothing like having a uniform tell you your doing something stupid! may they can contact his insurance and bank , well mister so and so we are calling in our loan/canceling your insurance ...............! was a big brush fire 15 minutes away from us yesterday burned up 3 mill in rv's and other outdoor toys plus 37 other brush fires!! cant under stand all the idiots out there!!
     
  5. Dreams30

    Dreams30 Lady Rider

    Messages:
    820
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2003
    Location:
    SW Ark
    Sounds like your neighbor needs a burn barrel to dispose of his trash. Maybe suggest that to him yourself instead of going through the third party "he said/she said" stuff.

    I would much rather see trash burned than put into landfills. You do have a legitimate concern and I would explain that to the neighbor.
     
  6. deb

    deb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,649
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2002
    Location:
    WI
    Burn Barrels aren't the answer. Our township has had 4 (ground/building) fires in last 2 weeks that started from fires in burn barrels.

    Besides, she isn't going to get anywhere talking to this guy about burn barrels if his attitude is "he's got insurance and he didn't care if his house burned down".

    I would probably ask the local fire warden or fire dept what can be done in this situation.

    Our county and the surrounding counties are not issuing burn permits at all (burn barrel or ground burns) due to the extremely high fire danger. Residents keep burning because 1) It hasn't been featured in the local newspapers or 2) because they don't believe that the restriction applies to them!

    Hope This Helps
    Deb
    in WI
     
  7. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,166
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Middle of nowhere along the Rim, Arizona
    Vera -- hey neighbor. I'm down in the low deserts, but I well remember the Rodeo/Chediski fire. Cried a bit during that, I know that country rather well. My dad's got a cabin up by Ellison Creek under the Rim -- we all spend the summer fire months watching the NS forest website for updates on new fires. You're right, the cityfolk haven't a clue. Last year on the fourth, some of his neighbors were setting of fireworks ... :rolleyes:

    I'm down in the low deserts out by Maricopa/Casa Grande, though. Out here, I have never seen this much dead grass. Ever. And I'm a native. I don't think it's being taken as seriously as it should be because we haven't had a bad fire out here that anyone can remember.

    If there are burn restrictions, I sure haven't heard of them. I may ask the next time I see a sheriff, though. And as far as fire response ... well, during the dry season in N. AZ, there's a fire truck parked every mile or two along the control road leading into his property, with the firefighters doing brush removal when they're not fighting a fire. Plus aircraft patrols.

    Contrast that to out here ... when we had that 100+ acre burn out here, it took the fire department half an hour to show up. Was a wildlands crew that got here, but still. In the meantime, many of us locals got our shovels and spades out and started digging firelines around threatened houses ... local water haulers and owners of heavy equipment showed up to help ... etc. *sigh*

    We had another fire of about three acres and reportedly (I wasn't there) the locals had it out before the firefighters got there.

    And we haven't had a fire yet under really hot, dry conditions. I seriously doubt we're going to be able to stop it if we get a fire going when it's 110 with a twenty mph wind behind it ...

    Hmm. It occured to me that I may also point out to this yokel that if he starts a fire and someone dies in it, he can be charged with manslaughter.

    Leva
     
  8. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,166
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Middle of nowhere along the Rim, Arizona
    Oh, and re: burn barrels -- the fire fighters out here told us that they'd just fought a fire started by someone burning trash in a burn barrel.

    The grass out here's so dry that just a spark will ignite it.

    Leva
     
  9. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,054
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    Well, whattaya know, we ARE neighbors :D Hi there, neighbor!

    I'm sorry to hear that not all of Arizona is equal after all, not yet anyway. After what happened down on Mt. Lemmon, I'd gotten the impression that the firefighting revamp was a state-wide thing. Drat.

    Yeah, any holiday that brings folks "out into the country to celebrate" gives us the dreads... if they don't burn off illegal fireworks, they barbecue. If they don't barbecue, they have a nice little camp fire for the kids to roast wieners. If they don't roast wieners, they cut wood with chainsaws. If they don't do that, they drive their cars and 4-wheelers through the tall dry grass, and worse, let them sit in one spot and idle while the good people gawk at the sights. It doesn't even take a spark... heat is good enough to set off the grass.

    Sounds like you're pretty much on your own for fire safety where you are for the time being. Getting together with the neighbors and doing what you did is probably your best bet. One thing I'd do (and DO do around here) is keep everything mowed. Hoop is correct about the fuel, so if you take the fuel away, a fire won't make it very far. Dry grass, when mowed short, works just about as well as burned dry grass to stop a wildfire, and it's kinder to our fragile dirt. Trimming tree branches at least as high up as you can reach (assuming you're taller than 5 feet), trimming all dead branches out of trees, removing any ladder fuels to keep a grass fire from going up into the trees, and keeping the ground and plants watered and mowed around structures all helps.

    They say that we'll have a later but worse fire season up here this year because of the wet winter and all the growth that comes with it. It's probably not much different down in the desert.

    Oh, almost forgot - if you have slopes. they make fire run much faster. Uphill, I mean. If memory serves right, your fuel perimeter doubles on the downhill side of the house, so instead of 100 feet of mowing/trimming, it's 200 feet.

    Btw, I went down to Tucson about a year ago, and there were already new big houses built near Show Low into whatever living trees are left from Rodeo-Chediski. How these people could possibly get home insurance is beyond me. It was heart-breaking to drive for over an hour and see nothing but a burned forest moonscape.
     
  10. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,832
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Washington
    I'd mow all the grass you can, and keep it mowed as low as possible. Rake up all of the cut grass and get it out of there - you want just stubble. I know, this gets rid of the wildlife habitat but it also really cuts down on the fire potential.

    It sounds like you've already done alot of brush clearing and fire line work.
     
  11. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    A burn barrel properly set up will help-keep it completely clear of anything that can ignite within several feet-so no chance of anything happening. Plus, you can soak things around the burn area so it isn't so dry-though it seems water isn't something to just use in that area I think.

    As for making it illegal-don't! Govt. is bad enough when it comes to property rights-if anything does happen, make sure the one responsible gets held accountable for every damage-inluding your time and labor to get back to the point you were at with animals and the loss from not being at that point still-getting "big brother" involved is not the right thing to do...
     
  12. RachAnn in NW Okla

    RachAnn in NW Okla Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,795
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2002
    Hi~

    Around here if the (volunteer) fire dept is called to a fire --controlled or not--they MUST put it out....now if it is a reported, sched. controlled burn (ie the FD already knows it is going before the call is placed) they dont have to put it out....

    my advice is EVERY time you know he is burning call the fire dept :yeeha:

    Rachel
     
  13. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,166
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Middle of nowhere along the Rim, Arizona
    Vera -- in N. AZ, there's the timber industry and the money from tourism and more $$ in property. Out here, we're poor, we've got a minimal tax base, all that would burn would be a few mobiles and a lot of open desert that isn't a tourist draw because it's flat and not very dramatic.

    Sigh.

    I've probably got a different frame of reference than a lot of the locals in my area, too, given that I've spent time in N. AZ -- gives one a total respect for fire.

    I remember last year, around June, the locals in Tonto Village put an unauthorized roadblock up to try to keep cityfolk from camping along the control road. Also, there was the same sort of thing going on around Pine/Strawberry. Never heard what came of that, but the forest wasn't officially closed and the locals weren't happy about that. And city people were coming up to camp and finding roadblocks ...

    Leva
     
  14. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    442
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Shoot, I'm with Antique. Run from reliance on government - once you make them a partner they never leave. Lay off the possibility of your neighbor starting a fire, take responsibility for your own lands (as you've done by bulldozing) and find solutions.

    I assume you have no hazard from crown fires in nearby trees. Grass fires burn quick and are then gone. Control fuel for a grass fire by mowing low or, even better, setting very controlled back fires around your house. In dry areas that are continuously subject to grass fires I'd set up some wide arc sprinkler heads around the house and on areas worth preserving. 40 lbs of pressure should handle a whole acre. All you need is a water source. All you need for a low-heat grass fire is to keep 20 ft from whatever you want to protect.
     
  15. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,166
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2004
    Location:
    Middle of nowhere along the Rim, Arizona
    Yeah, under calm winds, a grass fire isn't a problem. Issue is that we get high winds on a regular basis, sustained. I could blade my entire property flat and if there's a fire and a burning bush blows up against my house ...

    Just found out there was another fire today about 2 miles from me ... haven't heard the acreage but it took air drops and a couple of hours to get it out. I've been sick and slept right through the excitement.

    Leva
     
  16. antiquestuff

    antiquestuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    752
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Well stop worrying so much-you'll worry yourself into health problems! Deal with the bad neighbor yourself or with help from good neighbors. Keep big brother out-you'll be happy you did.
     
  17. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,054
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    I doubt that the average homesteader or neighbor has helicopters and air tankers and heavy machinery handy. It's Big Brother who fights our big fires, and frankly, when we get another one up here, I'll feed Big Brother and make coffee by the gallon and offer use of my house if necessary to make sure he stays around until the fire is out.

    One thing you might not realize is that the fire situation in Arizona is fueled by high winds, dry desert air, heat, and, up here, quite a bit of inaccessibly rough terrain. The fires we get range from a few thousand to several hundred thousand acres. If you have a little 2000 acre fire in the parched forest just outside of your town, and flames are raging through the treetops and the thing is growing a mile a minute, you don't give a flying hoot about government issues - you want HELP, NOW. The neighbor with his garden hose won't make a dent. Big Brother will.

    Just be grateful that conditions aren't like this everywhere in the country and there's plenty of areas where keeping Big Brother out is a cheap and easy thing to do :)
     
  18. Vera

    Vera Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,054
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2003
    Leva, here are some more links:

    http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/

    http://www.firewise.org/

    You can also check the websites of different insurance companies and see if they have fire safety tips (State Farm did last year), and you can contact the USDA Forest Service - whichever district you're in or closest to - and request information.

    It really brings much peace of mind to do what YOU can do to cut down on the fire danger. Learning how the fires work around here and what I need to do to make my place safer (and doing most of it) and what kind of threats I don't need to worry about was a sanity saver the last few years. It's along the lines of "knowledge is power".
    Btw, if you have retirees in your area, they might band together and bug whichever organizations are there for them to see about getting some help from volunteers, like with mowing or digging fire breaks or work like that.
     
  19. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Florida
    Cygnet, I was praying for you as I was reading...

    We've been lucky here in Florida, at least as far as present fire danger goes (four hurricanes last year helped, too!)

    But we had a neighbor who set a fire (dead leaves, branches, etc.) in a large drainage ditch when we had a drought that had lasted several years...the ditch was next to a tinder-dry forest that is against one side of the mobile home park we're moving out of, with bushes and trees hanging over the ditch...I called the fire department and they got onto him about it (we did have a burn ban fortunately)...he had set the fire and went back inside his house...I still have the creeps thinking about what could have happened if the woods had caught fire.

    I like the guy who did this, and I still have trouble believing he was that stupid, but you gotta believe your own eyes, you know?

    I have mixed feelings about involving the government...I was ranting about my experiences with local permits earlier today (too much government!), but when someone is taking big chances on setting a fire that may burn others out of their homes, and of burning maybe hundreds of acres, it may be time to involve big brother...I don't want the government to control what I do on my land that WON'T affect other people, and other people's property, but burning trash when the fire potential is high doesn't fall into that category.