Extremely dry conditions worry firefighters

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-07 01:10:35-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) - Dry conditions and high temperatures the past few days have kept the Chesterfield Fire Department on alert for small fires that could spark bigger problems.

A house fire off Coralberry Drive on Thursday started after a cigarette butt was improperly disposed of in a mulch bed next to the home, according to fire investigators. [RELATED: Fire burns Chesterfield home]

Marlene Broosa lives right next door on Coralberry and has been watering her yard all day Friday after seeing what happened to her neighbors.

“Just open flames about 16 to 18 feet high in the air it seemed,” says Broosa about what she saw Thursday.  “You never know if it can hit the next house over and spread.”

Chesterfield Fire officials say the fire at Coralberry Drive is a prime example of how high temperatures and dry conditions can cause even the smallest fire to spread quickly.

Chief Robby Dawson, Fire Marshall for Chesterfield County, says dry vegetation in mulch beds or leaf piles have the potential for spreading fire to much larger areas. 

“The mulch itself is not a huge fire,” says Chief Dawson.  “It’s what next to the mulch or next to pile of leaves that catches fire that is our biggest concern.”

Dawson also says that open flames or heat sources that may be close to dry vegetation need to be monitored carefully whenever the weather is hot and dry.

“Whether it’s candles, citronella candles, gas grills, charcoal grills, anything like that that does burn has the potential or opportunity to start a major fire if it’s not well taken care of,” Dawson says.

Marlene Broosa wants to echo a message that the Chesterfield Fire Department is also trying to get across.

“Be very cautious,” says Broosa.  “Even if you have picnics in you backyard and things like that, be careful in what you do at all times.”