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Recent Rains Helping and Hurting Firefighters

<font size=2> <P>Dry conditions are also taking a toll on volunteer firefighters.</P> <P>Battling grass fires can stretch a volunteer fire department's resources pretty thin.</P> <P>That's why, as Mechell Dixon found out, many area fire crews were happy when showers fell over night.</P></font>

Several volunteer fire chief's told me last night's rain had them grinning from ear to ear.

And while it's a huge plus, one volunteer fire chief says showers can also cause big problems

Gray clouds don't get volunteer firefighters down.

"Every time we have a rain storm I can guarantee you every fire chief in the county is smiling," says Chief Randy Fulbright with Iowa Park Volunteer Fire Department.

Smiling... because it reduces the chance of this from happening.

This fire on Bacon Switch Road was one of two Iowa Park volunteer crews battled May 19th, that were sparked by lightning.

"The weeks that we don't get rain, between the wind that 30 to 40 mph dries the ground out so fast it wouldn't take but a day or two and then we're back to 100, 200, 500 acres," says Chief Fulbright.

The fires burned more than 500 acres.

This is what remains today.

And while fire officials say the rain eases dry conditions, they say only under certain circumstances.

"As long as the wind is not blowing 20 to 30 mph, it's a slow dry. We're all right. That three-quarter inch of rain we got this morning, that gives us three or four days leeway," says

Chief Fulbright.

During that leeway, Chief Fulbright says his crews are able to make repairs and get tanker trucks filled so when flames do spark they can quickly hustle to the scene.

Rain that fell overnight averaged three-quarters of an inch.

While that's not a huge amount, volunteer fire officials say it's enough to give them a much needed break, which in turn is causing new brush to grow.

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