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Keep weeds from being a fire hazard
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Now is the time to start eliminating potential fire and health hazards before they become unwieldy. With the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, grass, weeds and other vegetation grows more quickly. This, coupled with all the rain we have had these last few months, makes for out-of-control weeds and the like taking over yards, undeveloped lots and fields. And once things start drying out - usually around late April - they become vulnerable to catching fire. Every year, fire departments in the area respond to numerous grass fires, most of which are started by cigarettes, cars backfiring, catalytic converters, kids playing with matches, fireworks and sometimes lightening.

It is best to keep vegetative growth short by cutting it now, regularly mowing and weed whacking to maintain it. When weeds, grass and bushes are high, they are more difficult to cut.

Uncut weeds, grass and brush can harbor rodents, and since snakes are rodent predators, you can expect to have both when vegetative growth is left uncontrolled. Insects also prosper in heavy growth locations, leading to potential problems with West Nile Virus and other similar issues. It is important to eliminate the habitat for mosquitoes early on.

It is a violation of fire codes to fail to keep vegetative growth from becoming a fire hazard. Violations of these codes can lead to citations and fines. In some instances, if a city, state or county agency has to perform the clean-up due to non-compliance, the person responsible for the property will be billed for the labor and any materials used. Also, you may be civilly liable for a fire that results from negligent maintenance of your property and ignites property owned by someone else.

The main reason for the fire-related warnings is to help keep everyone and their property safe from harm. It is also in the best interest of taxpayers to reduce the number of fire responses to preventable fires. And, of course, fighting grass fires poses a real danger to our firefighters; firefighters die at least as often fighting brush and wild land fires as they do fighting structure fires.

With all the rain and deep-ground moisture that has now accumulated, this Spring will see much vegetation growth. Do not wait until mid-summer to act.

, as it will be too late. All lots, yards and acreages should be cut and kept that way. An inch or two should be the maximum height for vegetation growth. With our combined efforts, we can look forward to a safer summer, while sparing needless and preventable injuries, deaths, and property damage.