Wildfire Season Begins: VFD’s Prepare

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Tuesday was a windy day, something local volunteer fire department officials say greatly increases fire danger. 
 
Now that wildfire season is here, firefighters know they can expect more and more calls, like they got on a fire just west of Iowa Park off Highway 287 at Harmony road on Tuesday. 
 
The highway actually had to be shut down between Electra and Iowa Park for quite a while because of the smoke. 
 
County officials say one farmhouse was threatened but firefighters kept the flames away, and the fire was contained in about two hours.
 
“We’ve had a lot of rain and a lot of growth and now it’s pretty dry and windy so it’s drying it all out which in turn makes for a lot of stuff to burn,” Hayden Hansen, fire chief of the Wichita East Volunteer Fire Department said.
 
Hansen says they actually have different gear for a structure and a wild fire. 
 
The gear they wear for wildfires is a lot lighter.
 
Hansen says when they’re battling a wildfire in the heat of the summer, wearing the heavier gear puts the firefighter at a greater risk of overheating and the lighter gear is enough to protect them. 
 
They also do special training for grass and wildfires. 
 
“We do grass fire training and wildfire training as well to kind of prepare ourselves more for what is to come so we can be prepared for when we get out on scene,” Hansen said. 
 
They also use a different truck for structure fires and  wildfires.
 
Hansen says the season is just now starting, and they haven’t had too many wildfires yet, but he expects them to pick up as the temperatures continue to rise into the spring and summer when all the grass and weeds that shot up after the record rainfall  begins to dry out. 

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