Overtasked lawnmower sparks grass fire

Comanche  County_Area volunteer fire departments, early on the scene, extinguished two grass fires in eastern Comanche County before any real damage was done.  But, they say they were lucky this time.  The first fire began early Wednesday morning near 180th and Townley where fire officials say power lines crossed in the wind, and threw sparks that started the fire.

Cox's Store Fire Department dampened the flames, but three hours later, and three miles away, another fire erupted.  This time, the fire was caused by a lawnmower.  Fire officials say that grass and weeds were simply too high for Randy Blish's riding lawnmower to handle.  "Poor guy was mowing on his little bitty mower, and grass got caught up in the mower and started it on fire," said Cox's Store Fire Chief Al Dreves.

Dreves says very tall grass can get caught in the blades of the mower, and it only needs a little spark to cause a fire.  He says that's what happened.  The grass fire burned over 50 acres, with flames nearing Blish's neighbor's home just 20 feet away.  Cox's Store was able to extinguish it just in time.  "It could have been really bad," says Dreves.  "If it'd got into them hay bales, we'd probably been here all day and all night.  That house right there next to it , no, that would not be a good deal."

Dreves says that as soon as he saw smoke, he called for back up.  With the dry grass and high winds, he wasn't going to take any chances.  "From looking at the fire station and seeing the smoke, I went ahead and called out Sterling and then I went ahead and called out Central," he said.  Firefighters were able to put out the fire in about an hour.

Dreves says when you mow, make sure the grass isn't too much for your lawnmower.  "They need to get a brush hog or something to keep that grass down where it belongs," he says.  "I mean, the little lawn mower's fine on small grass, but this heavy grass, and as dry as it is, once that stuff balls up, boy, it can start on fire in a hurry."

Lawnmower salespeople say if grass is higher than the tires of your lawnmower, it's too high for the machine.  Your lawnmower owner's manual also will indicate just how high the grass can be for your mower to cut safely.