MURRAY — With dry weather on the horizon in coming months, and many tobacco barns full and smoking, the familiar scenes of approaching autumn should also prompt care when dealing with fire outside in coming months.
While smoke rising from tobacco barns is a common sight in Calloway County this time of year, Calloway County Fire-Rescue Chief Tommy Morgan said that not everyone passing through the community may know what is or isn’t business as usual for a tobacco barn. And with a fire consuming such a structure over the weekend, he expanded on some things that might indicate when something is out of place, as well as other items for farmers and those working outside to keep in mind during coming months.
Morgan said that Calloway County has been fortunate so far, and has not seen an increase in calls due to fires growing out of control.
“We have been fortunate so far; of course, farmers are just now getting cranked up and starting to cut their crops,” Morgan said. “Every year, we normally have one or two combines catch on fire, which catch fields on fire.”
Morgan said issues can also arise whenever people take gasoline-powered vehicles out into fields with tall, dry grass.
“People driving them out into fields with dry weeds, the exhaust can catch fields are fire,” Morgan said. “I won’t say it happens a lot, but we probably have at least one instance of that where a vehicle will catch a field on fire while it’s idling.”
Morgan said that so far this year, people have done a good job of keeping any controlled burns from getting out of hand, but noted that drier conditions are expected to continue this time of the year.
“People haven’t really started burning their leaves and all of that yet,” Morgan said. “But people need to take into consideration that things are getting dry.”
When it comes to the issue of tobacco barns and whether or not to call into the fire department, Morgan said that determining whether or not a tobacco barn is burning the way it should is usually hard to determine except for those with a lot of experience working with tobacco every year.
“Knowing if there is something wrong, that almost takes somebody who has been raising tobacco for a while,” Morgan said. “For somebody that is new to town or doesn’t really know what they are looking for, if you don’t see flames, it is hard to know if it is on fire. Sometimes you can tell from the smoke, but even then that would take a lot of experience.”
Morgan said that typically, visible flames or particularly dark smoke are indicators that a tobacco barn might have caught fire.