Local volunteer fire fighters busy on New Year's weekend - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Local volunteer fire fighters busy on New Year's weekend

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Volunteer firefighters were scattered across Lubbock County during New Year's weekend fighting fires from fireworks and monitoring controlled burns.

"We got back to the station at three o'clock this morning and then started EMS duty at 7 a.m." West Carlisle Fire Chief Tim Smith said.

From Saturday morning to Sunday evening there were more than 50 controlled burns in the county, and more than 15 grass fires with some caused by fireworks.

Smith says West Carlisle alone responded to two grass fires caused by fireworks.

"Both were about 15 to 20 acres apiece. It didn't threaten any structures, but it threatens firefighter lives every time we respond," Smith said.

In addition to the grass fires, all ten volunteer fire departments in the county have been busy with controlled burns because people are not reporting when, where and what they're burning to the Sheriff's Office as required.

"It's been a stressful year anyway with the amount of wildfires that Texas has had - including this region, and that just already taxes our budget. It's stretched thin, plus every time we respond it puts firefighters' lives in danger," Smith said. "More firefighters die each year going to calls and coming home than actually fighting fires."

There have been more than 150 controlled burns since the ban was lifted a little more than a week ago. Smith wants anyone who plans to burn to be aware of the restrictions.

"The most important thing is to report when and where you're going to burn to the Sheriff's Office. You cannot burn until an hour after sunrise, and the fire has to be out an hour before sunset. You also can't burn if the wind is more than 20 mph and anything that creates black smoke like plastics can't be burned," Smith said.

Smith says the number fires caused by fireworks will die down over the next few days, but as far as the controlled burns, Smith hopes people will use more common sense. "Report the controlled burns, make sure you know what your burning, and make sure it truly is controlled because once you light that match are you really in control?"

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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