Dry, windy conditions create perfect combination for field fires

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BARGERSVILLE, Ind. (October 21, 2015)- Dry and windy conditions are sparking field fires throughout the state. Some counties are still under a red flag warning, meaning conditions are prime for fires.

The Bargersville Fire Department gave FOX59 a demonstration of a controlled burn with dry and dead vegetation. The flames quickly spread from the pile of leaves and sticks, to the yard nearby. Bargersville and nearby fire departments deal with more field fires than urban departments. The rural setting makes for a perfect fire starter and it's often more difficult for departments to respond in deep brush or crops.

“In the rural setting that we’re working in here, we end up covering 60 square miles and we have a  lot of farmlands in this area," explained Bargersville Fire Department Chief Eric Funkhouser.

The department often responds to fires in fields around this time of year, especially when farmers are harvesting their crop. On Wednesday, FOX59 was there while fire departments in Franklin responded to a field fire. Crews were able to quickly put out the flames, but it's not always that easy. Chief Funkhouser said his department responded to a field fire a few years ago, where the fire grew quickly and destroyed more than 100 acres of farmland.

“The relative humidity has dropped. The temperatures have gone up. The wind speeds have increased around here during the fall, so anytime there’s a fire around here, it has the chance to grow faster," he said.

The peak season for field and brush fires is from the end of August to the beginning of October. Bonfire season, though, is just beginning. Funkhouser recommends homeowners to take precautions when setting campfires in the backyard and pay attention to the forecast.

“A couple of the fires we’ve had this year have been due to recreational fires getting out of control so the wind speeds picked up and the homeowners were unable to put it out themselves," said Funkhouser.

Click here for a list of safety tips plus rules and regulations for open burning from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

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