Madison firefighters battling multiple grass fires a day

Authorities urge residents to use caution
Madison firefighters battling multiple grass fires a day

Madison fire authorities said they are responding to an average of three to five grass fires every day, and they’re urging residents to take precautions to prevent grass fires.

The Madison Fire Department said it responded to at least one grass fire in Madison on Wednesday, four on Tuesday and nearly 20 since last Monday.

Fire officials said they’re concerned the smaller grass fires could turn into something far worse.

“The problem with grass fires; once they get going, once they ignite, they move very quickly, and they spread very rapidly,” said Lori Wirth, spokeswoman for the Madison Fire Department. “People are just discarding cigarettes without a thought as to what they’re leaving behind. I don’t think they understand the consequences. I don’t think they understand the scope of the problem, and I don’t think they understand how volatile grass fires can be.”

A simple cigarette flick started a grass fire earlier in the week inside a roundabout on Madison’s east side. Firefighters said the concrete curb stopped it from spreading.

On Wednesday afternoon, a single bottle rocket lit by a 13-year-old started a fire that nearly scorched all of Arbor Hills Park, Wirth said.

Wirth said in cases like what happened at Arbor Hills, there’s a huge chance of a major spread of the fire. She said people need to start realizing how dangerous conditions are.

“For some reason, no matter how much we tell them, they don’t seem to understand how dry it is,” Wirth said.

In the Arbor Hills case, the Madison Fire Department said the teen won’t be cited, mainly because he was very remorseful, and also because his parents will likely take care of a sufficient punishment.


But in other cases, when adults know better, Wirth said people can absolutely be ticketed if they’re traced back to a grass fire that was started by a careless act.

People who smoke are asked to get rid of their used smoking materials by dousing them in water and disposing of them in a noncombustible container.

Madison fire authorities are also reminding residents that most fireworks are prohibited in the city.

Open burning is also not allowed in Madison city limits. While the city does allow outdoor fireplaces and grills, residents are asked to stop using any outdoor fireplaces until the area gets some rain.

Residents who see smoke or fire in any grassy area are asked to call 911 immediately. Fire authorities said grass fires spread very quickly on dry ground and require a fast response to ensure the fire is contained.