Dry ground from the ongoing drought conditions in Ardmore have inspired painstaking attention from the Ardmore Parks and Recreation department to reduce fire hazard during the annual Festival of Lights.
A small grass fire flared up Sunday in Regional Park, according to the Ardmore Fire Department. While the fire was minor, AFD spokesman Jason Woydziak said, the grass in the park is especially prone to catching flames.
“The drier things are, the more susceptible they are to heat,” Woydziak said. “But they’re fairly safe otherwise.”
Woydziak said firefighters weren’t entirely sure what caused the isolated incident, but they doubt the lights themselves were to blame. He assured those who string holiday lights at home that as long as directions are followed and proper cords are used during installation, they likely have nothing to fear.
“Basically, if you follow directions, you’re as safe as safe can be,” Woydziak said.
Nevertheless, Ardmore Parks and Recreation Director Teresa Ervin said those involved in the Festival of Lights check the displays several times a day. Staff on duty have the knowledge to fix and change plugs, and frequent drive-throughs are performed.
“There are a lot of lights. There’s a lot of power being used,” Ervin said. “We do take extra precautions after getting them set up to check on them. We weed-eat around grass to keep it down.”
Her main concern right now, as expressed by the fire department, is dry grass. But even in these conditions, the Festival of Lights has not produced anything drastic, and incidents in the past have been minor.
“In the past, everything that we have experienced has been very small,” Ervin said. “And our fire department does a great job, I can’t say enough about them. Plus, our guys out there have worked them several times.”
Most of Carter County is currently in a state of moderate drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.