May 22, 2010 11:34 PM by Andy Koen
The heavy winds Saturday fanned grass fires, knocked off tree limbs severely damaged a large steel building in Colorado Springs.
Several trains were stopped on the tracks through downtown after an entire wall of a steel heating and air conditioning building was blown outward onto the track.
The fire department keeps extra workers on hand when the weather is dry and windy because of the fire danger.
"If we get a grass fire to start it can blow and travel rather quickly," said Lt. David Vitwar.
The fire danger was elevated to "high" Saturday because of the weather. Two brush trucks and a standard pump engine were dispatched to put out a small fire at the Lowes on Powers.
Despite its size, the wind still carried embers of burning mulch as far as 200 yards away dangerously close to an open field that borders neighborhoods.
Lt. Vitwar says some 30, 000 homes in Colorado Springs border a wild land interface, and fires in grassy areas can spread quickly.
Even trees had trouble dealing with the wind. The fire department received several reports of fallen trees.
Vitwar says the fire department doesn't respond to every downed tree, but there are times when it's appropriate.
"If it poses a threat to personal safety or to property then you can call us out and we may make a determination of whether we can safely mitigate the hazard."
Lt. Vitwar also wants the public to remember to use caution when barbecuing on hot and windy days. Charcoal grills shouldn't be used on wood decks, and briquettes should be allowed 2-3 days to cool before disposing of them.
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