The Ceres Fire Department is calling for property owners to keep weeds and grasses that may have flourished in the recent wet season to a minimum so they don’t become a fire hazard when things dry out.
“It’ll happen quickly, too,” said Ceres Fire Chief Kevin Wise. “I always try to wait until the showers are tapering off because there’s no sense to go disc a green field and then it turns around and it grows back.”
Wise said grass can literally dry out in days – and said he’s seen even green grass burn.
The department will be keeping an eye on vacant lots and open fields.
“I’m not looking for the guy who hasn’t mowed his grass in a long time – unless it’s really bad. I’m mainly looking at the unimproved lots and the fields around town. We just want to remind people to get out and take care of them.”
When the department spots a field or lot that presents a potential fire hazard, the property owner will be sent a courtesy notice as a reminder to take care of grass and post a notice on the property.
“We’ll give them five days to comply.”
Most pledge to take care of things, some by turning to firms that will run a tractor and disc the ground to plow under the weeds. A re-inspection will take place. In situations where the notice goes unanswered without action, the city can order a clean-up and place the expense as a lien on the property.
“Last year we had great compliance from everybody.”
The city typically has the hardest problem getting a hold of out-of-town owners, said Wise, but the city eventually got all to comply. As a result of that and joint efforts of the fire department and Code Enforcement officers, the incidence of grass fires in 2019 was down.
Wise recommends anyone mowing a field to clear it of rocks first to prevent the blade from hitting them and risking the potential for a grass fire from sparks.