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Heat, fire danger take toll

August 29, 2012
by Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

Estherville Lincoln Central students probably didn't mind the heat so much this week, particularly since they got out of school at 1:05 p.m.

That was about the time the Roosevelt Elementary and Estherville Lincoln Central High School buildings started heating up like the proverbial brick oven, virtually cooking what was inside.

And if the kids came home half-baked, you can bet parents would have been upset.

Article Photos

Elvin Nunez of Orlando, Fla. practiced batting as Steven Kandborg of Vancouver, British Columbia set up the balls at the baseball complex Wednesday afternoon.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

That was the reason for the early dismissal, particularly since it's pretty difficult to let kids from some buildings out not others.

Considering they're young and hearty, athletes continued their training Wednesday, with football and cross-country teams burning up the field and the pavement.

The first regular practice day for the Iowa Lakes Laker baseball team isn't until today, but they practiced throwing and batting Wednesday.

For Elvin Nunez of Orlando, Fla., the heat was about the same as he would expect back home.

That wasn't quite the case for Steven Kandborg of Vancouver, British Columbia who is used to more of a cool, mild climate.

Emmet County Emergency Management Coordinator Terry Reekers said the area continues under a National Weather Service fire watch.

"Any fire could get out of control very quickly," said Reekers who advises that anyone doing any burning have a hose or fire extinguisher handy. With the 36 percent humidity and winds Wednesday, though, not burning at all would probably be a better idea, said Reekers.

"We're back to where we were before the rain," Reekers said.

Reekers said it's so dry that even if a person watches a fire closely, radiant heat could start combustible materials afire from several feet away.

And, whatever you do, said Reekers, "Definitely don't leave any fire unattended."

While forest fires plagued the West all summer long, Iowa doesn't have to worry about those. However, Iowa has something the western states don't have a lot of.

Corn.

"It would really strain our sources at the local level if we have a fire go from one field to another," said Reekers.

And, unlike the western states, Iowa doesn't have a large-scale fire team on alert and ready to go.

"We rely on what's called mutual aid response," Reekers said.

While the county isn't under a burn ban yet, Reekers said if the area went to a red flag warning status, "That would men absolutely no burning at all."

So who can call a burn ban?

"It's totally up to the fire chiefs. It's their call if they want to do it," said Reekers. And if there were a burn ban, he said it would apply to everyone - including towns accustomed to burning limb and brush piles.

"If you absolutely have to burn, have a way to put that fire out very quickly," Reekers said.

So how long has it been since it's been this dry - and for this long?

"A lot of us compare this to the drought of the thirties," said Reekers.

Reekers also advises people to keep an eye out for their neighbors, particularly the elderly and disabled.

"We just need to be good neighbor and check on handicapped people and our elderly neighbors," Reekers said. "Walk next door and check on your neighbor."

 
 
 

 

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