Weather cools down but fire danger still high - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Weather cools down but fire danger still high

MADISON (WKOW) -- The temperature has dropped a little, but the danger for fires is still high as we continue this long stretch without rain.

"We noticed the bike trail on fire," says Jeremiah Neumiller.

Charred grass is left in the strip of land along the bike trail near Park Street and Washington Avenue.

Neumiller and John Jeske say they were on their way home early Saturday morning when they saw the fire.

"There were others there. No one knew what to do. I told John to call the fire department, and I ran down there and started stomping and beating the fire with my bag," Neumiller says.

They say it spread quickly and that it was only about a 20-foot long strip of grass burning to start with.

"Just in that short time trying to put it out, it spread. It probably doubled in size," Neumiller says.

"It's tinder dry out there. When it burns, it moves. Grass fires are, by definition, pretty dangerous because they spread so easily. It doesn't even take a lot of wind in this kind of weather," says Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth.

She says firefighters responded to more than 20 grass fires since the July 4th—10 of those happened just in one day.

Some were caused by fireworks while others were caused by cigarettes tossed into the dry grass.

Wirth says that's likely what scorched the earth at the roundabout on Winnebago Street.

"The only thing that stopped it was the sidewalk. It would have continued on and who knows where because there's another field across from the roundabout where it could have easily ignited," Wirth says.

It's not recommended that you try to put the fire out yourselves like Neumiller and Jeske, but it is important to be aware of your surroundings and make that 9-1-1 call.

"We encourage the rest of the community to be vigilant. Call as soon as you see it so we can get it and put it out," Wirth says.

While Madison hasn't ordered a burn ban, the city has strict ordinances that don't allow any open burning.

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