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Dry conditions across Nebraska and Iowa metro creating higher fire risk

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 23:19:22-05

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Dry and windy conditions have kept local fire departments busy lately.

Pottawattamie County responded to six different fires on Monday, despite being in a burn ban since February 8.

“We know that conditions are ripe that fires can just take off with that," said Michell Bose with Pottawattamie County Emergency Management. "So when we put those burn bans in place, it’s just to help safe lives as well as property.”

Bose says conditions in Pottawattamie County are close to what they were in 2005 when several acres and homes were destroyed by a grass fire.

KMTV meteorologist Chris Swaim says our mild winter has left us with a high potential for fires.

"In February when we would normally have a snowpack that would suppress any kind of fire danger or anything like that," Swaim said. "It’s just not there.”

Right now the Omaha metro is in a dry condition, but just further west it's a moderate drought.

"We have incredibly warm temperatures; we saw that today in the 70s, the dew point is in the 30s which is the measure of moisture in the atmosphere," said Swaim. "Those numbers are really far apart, and that creates really dry conditions, so even a spark fly away ember, anything is liable to start a fire when the grass is this dry.”

There’s hope that the weekend will bring some moisture, but for now, emergency departments are asking people not to burn in current conditions.

"This is kind of with springtime coming through, this is where people do a lot of burning," Bose said. "We also know that people burn a lot of trash. Right now just asking not to burn at this time just for the fact that the fires could become out of control quickly.”

Douglas County is also currently in a burn ban until further notice.

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