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Take caution with controlled burning
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Firefighters in the Green County area might have had a case of deja vu Wednesday.

In 2009, at just about this time of year - the first warm, sunny weather of spring - residents around the area began burning brush, leaves or grass. And inevitably, it seemed, some of the fires spread out of control.

There are good reasons for burning off dead brush and grass left from a winter buried under snow, but the consequences seem to reveal themselves too often each spring. And they can be costly.

On Wednesday, area fire departments, including Monticello, Monroe, New Glarus, Browntown, Albany, Juda and Brodhead, were called to out-of-control grass fires. Then Thursday, Woodford, Argyle and Browntown were called out to respond to still more grass fires.

One of Wednesday's fires resulted in the complete destruction of a barn near Juda in the 1600 block of County K. This fire initially appeared to be the result of embers from a grass fire that had been extinguished. The fire might not have been out of control, but it shows even when caution is taken, "controlled" grass fires are dangerous.

Also, there is the monetary cost to the fire departments. Area fire departments must pay to maintain and use costly fire-fighting equipment, and there's the cost of lost labor hours for the many volunteer firefighters who respond to these situations.

Odds are most grass fires that burn out of control might not be as devastating as the Juda barn fire Wednesday, but the potential for financial and physical loss can't be overstated when choosing to start a controlled burn on a piece of property.

If a resident in the county must perform a controlled burn, do so properly. Inform the local fire department, educate yourself on the proper technique and don't be afraid to call for help in an emergency. In addition, plan for wind conditions, the amount of moisture in the air and other physical characteristics of the land that is planned to be burned.

The numerous fire calls this week possibly could have been avoided, but instead they became costly to both the landowner and the fire departments involved.

Fortunately, no one was injured or worse.