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Evidence of spring is popping up everywhere, which has area residents itching to get outside and begin on their yard work.

For BuEComm, the 9-1-1 Emergency Communication Center, evidence of spring can be seen with the dramatic increase in the number of controlled burns and brush fires across the county.

As farmers prepare for planting season, controlled burning is often used as a tool to clear grass and brush from fields and ditches, greatly reducing the likelihood of serious hotter fires later in the season.

As of April 5, fire departments across the county were sent to eight grass fires that had gotten out of hand, according to dispatcher Stacie Shofner.

Princeton Fire Department responded to three of the calls.

Fire Chief Chuck Woolley said most controlled burns get out of hand when people underestimate the power of the wind. Woolley urges residents to make sure the wind is calm before starting the fire. He also said to have plenty of assistance at the controlled burn, make sure an adult is supervising the area and have a water source at the site in case the fire gets out of control.

Although the potential hazards of controlled burning cannot be completely eliminated, using caution and following a few simple guidelines can diminish the danger and the need for emergency response by local fire departments.

Before lighting any controlled burnsite, BuEComm strongly urges residents to notify emergency personnel  by calling 815-872-1420. A dispatcher will ask for the location of the controlled burn, including the nearest intersection or cross street and the name and telephone number of the person responsible for the fire. The dispatcher will also ask the person responsible for the fire to call back and report when the burn is finished.

If a fire should become out of control, call 9-1-1 immediately for emergency assistance.

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