As temperatures begin to warm and the winter snows melt, many ranchers, farmers and other people head outside to begin their annual agricultural burns.
Each year, as the spring burning season gets into full swing, at least a few of these burns get out of control. This year, the National Weather Service is encouraging people to stay safe and “Learn Before You Burn!”
“Frequently, our calm mornings turn windy during the afternoon,” said Tim Troutman of the National Weather Service Riverton office. “Having an up-to-date wind speed and direction forecast can help you decide whether or not dropping the match is worth the risk.”
Troutman said federal and state land management agencies routinely obtain weather forecasts from the NWS, and citizens should do the same. The Riverton NWS office can be contacted 24 hours a day by phone at 1-800-211-1448. Area-specific forecasts are also available online at weather.gov/riverton.
Citizens conducting a field burn are not only responsible for what happens on their own property, they may also be held criminally and civilly liable from damages to federal and state property. This includes, but is not limited to, right-of-way fencing, according to WYDOT District 5 Engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin.
The Washakie County Burning Resolution approved last year by the commissioners includes regulations for county residents. Burning is permitted from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. No fires shall be started if winds are at or expected to exceed 15 mph during the burn.
Residents are required to contact county dispatch at 347-2242 prior to burning providing location, nature of the burn and name and contact information of the responsible party.
The county fire warden may suspend burning if the National Weather Service issues a red flag warning or high wind warning. Reporting by the Northern Wyoming Daily News.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation and Wyoming Highway Patrol are implementing several safety measures to help raise awareness on the importance of safe driving.
Recent fatalities in the state prompted officials to look at ways to reach out to the public to encourage them to buckle up and not drive drunk. WYDOT will display on its dynamic message signs throughout the state five different safety messages.
Some of the messages people will see include, “Check your seat belt! Check your speed!,” “Your family needs you! Slow Down! Buckle Up!,” and “18 deaths on Wyoming roads this year. Buckle Up!”
Overall fatalities and fatal crashes have been decreasing since 2014. In 2014, there were 150 fatalities from 131 fatal crashes. In 2015, there were 145 fatalities from 129 fatal crashes. And, in 2016, there were 112 fatalities from 100 fatal crashes, information from WYDOT’s Highway Safety Office indicated.
So far this year, Wyoming has had 18 fatalities from 15 fatal crashes, information from WYDOT’s Highway Safety Office indicated.