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When burning, check the forecast
Volunteer firefighters from Riverton responded with other agencies Tuesday to a grass fire covering about an acre near a home on Rendezvous Road. The fire spread to a corral and an abandoned horse trailer, but there was no major damage to structures. Photo by Steve Peck

When burning, check the forecast

Mar 25, 2012 - Staff

The National Weather Service office in Riverton advises people to get the most up-to-date forecast before conducting agricultural burns.

The warning arrives with an increase in fire danger across the lower elevations of Wyoming due to a lack of winter snowfall and recent warm and windy weather.

The conditions have resulted in several agricultural burns getting out of control in the Big Horn Basin and Johnson County.

"It is common for calm morning wind to give way to gusty wind around the midday hours during this time of year," said Chris Jones, warning coordination meteorologist at the Riverton NWS office.

"Having a weather forecast of expected wind speed and direction is valuable in the burn planning process. Federal and state land management agencies routinely ask us for this information. The general public should do the same," Jones said.

Dormant vegetation is primed for quick burning and agricultural burns can easily become uncontrollable, he said.

Landowners, conservation districts and others who plan to conduct prescribed burning activities are strongly encouraged to check the latest weather forecast by calling the NWS toll-free at (800) 211-1448.

They should inform local government officials of burn plans as well.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation also advises that prescribed burns that damage state property, including right-of-way fencing, inside the state highway rights-of-way are criminally and civilly liable.

Reduced visibility due to smoke is also a concern for motorists. Ten motorists were killed on a Florida interstate earlier this year when smoke from a brushfire obscured visibility.

For more information about current and forecast weather conditions, visit the NWS Riverton website at www.weather.gov/riverton.

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