A stray spark from a welding torch was all it took to ignite a patch of parched grass near McCoy’s Building Supply Tuesday.
The fire started around 2:45 p.m. while a group was working on an electric billboard near I-35. Welders noticed the fire and tried to extinguish it by smothering it with their jackets, but wind caused it to spread quickly.
The Ardmore Fire Department responded to their call, quickly extinguishing the flames, which scorched just under an acre of grass.
Firefighter Chad Mansfield said the department had responded to several similar small fires throughout the day. He said that in such dry conditions there are a few steps workers can take to avoid similar incidents.
“It would be best if they had a water source here on-site,” Mansfield said. “That way, they can address any small fire immediately. They did try a fire extinguisher here, but it just wasn’t enough due to the weather conditions.”
He also said it’s a good idea to work in pairs, with one person concentrated on welding and a second person watching for potential fires.
“As he’s welding, his attention is on that welding, not necessarily the situation around him,” Mansfield said. “Something could change quickly without him even realizing. Having somebody there to monitor the surroundings will always help.”
Mansfield said the I-35 exit ramp near McCoy’s provided a barrier that stopped the fire from spreading farther.
“I noticed they were putting this sign up yesterday when I was driving by, so when the call came in I had a pretty good idea of what was going on,” Mansfield said.
Carter, Love, Marshall and Jefferson Counties are all currently under burn bans, due to drought conditions that elevate the current risk of fire..