Monday, March 17, 2014

Red flag warning

Eastern Nebraska, including Lincoln and Lancaster country, is under a red flag warning today. A red flag warning is a fire/weather warning from the National Weather Service, meaning that conditions are ideal for wild fires: dry vegetation conditions, very low humidity, high winds. Historically, Nebraska's prairies have been regularly scorched by wildfires, which, despite their destructive power, also brought renewal to the grasslands.

Today, however, the grassland wildfire can threaten more than the occasional soddy on the plain. A wildfire in eastern Nebraska could cause millions of dollars in property loss, and threaten thousands of people. We had a close call on Saturday, when a fire ignited on this triangle of land west of Salt Creek and south of West A Street.

Driven by a gusty northwest wind, the fire threatened the commercial/industrial buildings to the south. Fortunately, a fast and furious response by Lincoln Fire & Rescue (the first three-alarm fire in quite some time) contained the fire before the buildings were lost, and kept the property damage to a minimum.

For my entire career, this triangle of land has been the site of hobo camps. I've walked it on many occasions, as Southwest Team officers still do today. From time to time, a body has been discovered in this vicinity. Although the fire inspector has not determined the source of this fire with certainty, I would not be surprised at all if it was a cigarette discarded by one of the denizens of the brush.


Anonymous said...

Likewise, I wouldn't be surprised if last night's third-floor apartment balcony fire (2800 block of Tierra) was the result of in improperly-discarded cig. The usual thing is that a plastic cup used for a field-expedient ashtray, originally holding some dirty water, no longer has enough water in it to extinguish the discarded cig, and smolder, POOF!

You know, porches and balconies used to burn up far less often when smokers smoked indoors and used real ashtrays, so long as they didn't fall asleep or pass out with a cig in their hand. However, with so many teen adult children smokers still living in their parent's (and I mean that as singular, not plural, in most cases) - and let's not forget the bumming BF or GF who smokes while the primary resident does not - they aren't allowed to smoke inside at all. I just think that if you can afford 5 bucks a pack for cigs, you can afford to buy a real ashtray and dispose of the extinguished butts safely.

Tom Casady said...


You hit the nail on the head. The smoker was cited for Negligent Smoking, Lincoln Municipal Ordinance 9.40.070.

Steve said...

Maybe it's time for a new campaign using an apartment manager mascot saying "Remember, only you can prevent balcony fires."

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention that fire fighters from Southwest Rural Fire and Rescue did the majority of the work knocking down the grass fire that was steadily moving to the south. Not trying to take anything away from LFR but don't forget about the individuals, who are VOLLUNTEERS and worked their buts off that day helping stop over a million dollars in damage