Dry conditions spark concerns

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:36 AM

The Tri-Cities area is not known as a hotbed for wildfires, but local fire officers are still concerned that these conditions — combined with the recent legalization of airborne fireworks in the state — do not bode well for West Michigan.

Despite bursts of rain in the past week, it’s still pretty dry out there, said Grand Haven Township Chief Tom Gerencer. “Fire conditions seem to worsen every day," he said.

Area fire departments have responded to a number of grass and wildfires over the past few weeks.

Robinson Township firefighters put out two small fires on Tuesday, both along 128th Avenue. Both Robinson and Grand Haven townships' fire crews put out fires on Friday, one of the least windy days of the past few weeks.

Another touch point for fires is beach grass, Gerencer said. “It’s just like gasoline," he said. "It’s amazing how quick it goes up."

The beach grass catches walkways on fire and then the decks that connect to the walkways, the fire chief said. “Now we have structures that are at risk,” Gerencer said.

Spring Lake Township Fire Capt. Brian Sipe, fresh off a grass fire along U.S. 31 last week, said people need to be aware of conditions before they start burning.

Sipe also urged people to be careful with the new airborne fireworks recently made legal in the state. Both he and Gerencer said they don’t know what to expect with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

The forecast for the next two weeks has only the possibility of rain on a couple of days.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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