NW IOWA FIRES
Grass and field fires were not confined to parts of northwest Iowa Saturday. They remained a big problem this past weekend in western Iowa and bordering states where things remain very dry. Sergeant Bluff fire chief, Anthony Gaul says his firefighters worked several hours responding to calls Saturday, and every area department was busy:
fires1 OC: else available” :09
Gaul says the local area damage total from the weekend fires will be more than seven figures as the burn ban in Woodbury County remains in place.
fires2 OC:burn up” :17
Chief Gaul says the strong winds of up to 60 miles an hour at times contributed to the fires.
fires3 OC:not do it” :21
Gaul says you need to think twice before starting any kind of fire outdoors when conditions are as windy and dry as they have been. Even if you are using a burn barrel.
Plymouth County called a burn ban after Saturday’s fires, in a request from the county’s fire departments. The county ended a burn ban March 25 after recent rains.
fires4 OC:a grating” :09
He says there are code requirements for burn barrels on the State Fire Marshal’s website. There are ten active burn bans in the state as of Monday — with all of them along the western edge of the state.
APARTMENT FIRE DEATH
One person was killed in an apartment fire in Sheldon, in O’Brien County. Firefighters from three area departments were called out before One A-M Monday morning for a structure fire in the central part of town. The identity of the victim has not been released, pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.
Crews have been working to clean up and investigate what appears to be a diesel spill at or near a state park in northwest Iowa. Trapper’s Bay State Park sits along the north shore of Silver Lake. Dickinson County Emergency Management director Mike Ehret says someone passing by noticed a shine on top of the water of Silver Lake and the smell of fuel. The spill was reported late last week. An official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the investigation isn’t done, but the spill may have happened when an above ground storage tank was overfilled. Silver Lake has more than nine and a half miles of shoreline and covers more than a thousand acres. Trapper’s Bay State Park was established in 1933 and has a picnic shelter that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
LA NINA STRENGTHENS
The climate-driving weather system known as La Nina may be sticking around still longer, impacting how Iowa’s weather evolves well past summer. Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U-S-D-A’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says the experts had expected La Nina to fade this spring. Instead, it’s “strengthened in certain ways.” Todey says the forecasting models for the next several months show a tendency toward above-normal temperatures and a lack of rain. A La Nina event occurs when Pacific Ocean surface temperatures cool, and it influences weather across North America.
Gasoline prices remain about 20-cents a gallon shy of their all-time high in Iowa. Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, says prices at the pump appear to have stabilized.
gas1 OC:”ten cent range” :15
The statewide average is three-84 a gallon and Mitts doubts prices will drop dramatically anytime soon.
gas2 OC:”roughly the same” :20
The start of the summer travel season is still several weeks away but Mitts says it’s a safe bet prices will rise around the big holidays like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
gas3 OC:”around the world” :19
Given the current statewide average of three-84 a gallon, that price is more than a dollar higher than Iowa’s average a year ago of two-78. Iowa’s highest-ever average of four-oh-two a gallon was set in July of 2008.