Interstate brush fire sparks dry weather conditions warning

Fire Chief Pat Sicard says something so simple escalated so fast because the conditions are ripe for runaway fires.

LACOMBE-  Fire crews responded to a 911 call for a brush fire on I-12 in Lacombe near the exit for Highway 434 on Wednesday. 

It's not a surprising call, but not common either.

However, when St. Tammany Fire District #3 crew members got on scene, the emergency kicked up a notch.

"We saw there was a fire in the median," said Capt. Abraham Dawson. "And then two or three fires on the shoulder, on the grass line."

The spotty patches of flames stretched about a quarter of a mile making the drive through the area, on both sides of the interstate, challenging due to the smoke.  At the end of the fire trail was a truck carrying a crew and trailing equipment headed to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery.

"Initially he thought it was a tire, but he said the entire axle broke off and just flung off," said Dawson. "I'm assuming from the sparks off the trailer, once it touched the grass it caught on fire quickly."

Fire Chief Pat Sicard says something so simple escalated so fast because the conditions are ripe for runaway fires. The area has barely seen an inch of rain in the entire month of November, coupled with dry air and increased winds that come with frequent fronts.

Sicard says all drivers should be aware of it.

"Everyone needs to be cautious of throwing cigarettes out of their windows or parking along side of the interstate where the heat from the underside of the vehicle may come in contact with the high grass and start a fire," he said.

Scary scenarios not likely on many people's minds, but according to firefighters, ought to be this winter season.

The fire danger level in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parish is at "High" at this time, while Washington Parish's fire danger is set at "Low."  While there are no burn bans in effect in our area at this time, it is advised for you to be cautious when burning debris on your property.  That includes keeping a close eye on your burn pile, and a water hose nearby.

To monitor your area's fire danger level, visit www.ldaf.state.la.us/daily-fire-weather/
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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