14-Year-Old Causes 4-Acre Grass Fire In Gillette; Comes Within 100 Yards From Houses

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By Ryan Lewallen, County 17

Firefighters were able to extinguish a four-acre grass fire Monday afternoon 100 yards from a series of houses and structures on Highway 14-16, fire authorities said Wednesday.

The fire was reportedly started by a 14-year-old juvenile around noon March 15, who is believed to have been playing with a lighter and paper outside a residence, according to Battalion Chief Bryan Borgialli with the Campbell County Fire Department (CCFD).

“He was doing something that he wasn’t supposed to be doing and wasn’t able to keep it under control,” Borgialli said March 17. “This was the result of a bad decision.”

It could have been worse. The recent incident consumed only grass but it could have been anything with conditions being as they are, according to Borgialli.

Things are drier than usual across Campbell County with the mild winter; any moisture the area may have received over the last few days could disappear at a moment’s notice should the weather improve, Borgialli said.

“It’s pretty sensitive out there,” he noted. “All the fuels are dead from last summer and are ready to burn.”

The area is in a shoulder season—that part of the year between the end of a dry summer and the beginning of a green spring—which means any fire could get out of control if residents are not careful, according to Borgialli.

Fires need to be attended to at all times, he said. Any plans to burn should be reported to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, which will notify the CCFD, before anything is ignited.

Residents need to report where they are burning, what they are burning, and how long they will be burning, Borgialli said.

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