Preventing wildfires in Yankton County - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Preventing wildfires in Yankton County

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If you're one of the 1,500 people who live in rural Yankton County, you'll probably be getting a flier in your newspaper, Tuesday.

The fliers are from the Yankton Fire Department with tips on how you can prevent grass fires in the rural community.

Last week a small grass fire ignited around a rural home spreading quickly over two properties. The owner of one of the homes wasn't there at the time. Neighbors called 911 and sat waiting to see if firefighters put it out.

"They believe someone tossed a cigarette out the window. For not wanting to put their bud in the ash tray, I just about lost everything I own. Too close," Michael Welch said.

Yankton Fire officials say that could happen again... which is why they're letting people know how to prevent it.

"We've been fortunate we haven't had a lot of wind lately but this yard also proves we don't need wind. The day it happened, it flashed over pretty fast," Deputy Chief Larry Nickles said.

Despite dry conditions, one of their biggest messages is for people to keep a 30-foot zone irrigated around each home with plants that won't easily burn.

"It's been so hot, people gave up watering. Now that 30 feet of green space is gone. That's what happened here, made it all the way to up to the house," Nickles said.

That had the entire Welch family on edge.

"The amount of stress on my wife, you can't measure it. My daughter who lives in town won't even come by and look. It's too scary thinking what could have been, how close," Welch said.

Yankton Fire hopes the flier for rural residents does its job letting people know what they can do.

"We've stepped it up because of this, because of the drought. Had to be a little more proactive and hope we can stop some disasters," Nickles said.

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