I live in Grass Valley where more than four of my 5 acres were burned on April 18, caused by a so-called controlled burn started by a careless neighbor.

Your article of April 29, " Dry Spring Conditions Spark Calls to Firefighters", which reported on that fire, has a number of errors and lack of pertinent information which I must address.

First of all, approximately four acres of my property were burned on Alice Lane (at my residence) and not on Betty Lane.

Secondly, because I had previously established wide fuel breaks to protect my home and garage, was on site along with a friend who is an NDF fire fighter, and the help of a neighbor with his tractor, we were able to slow and stop most of the fire ( using shovels, water hoses, tractor) before it reached the structures. 

Thirdly, the rural fire trucks did not reach the scene until the fire had consumed most of the 4 acres and had reached the fuel breaks.

This all points out some serious problems with allowing controlled burns when the following conditions exist:

1. The area contains thousands of acres of extremely dry heavy fuels.

2. Low precipitation amounts for the year are creating drought conditions.

3. Local surface winds are frequently strong and unpredictable this time of year. 4. Many new homes have been built in the region increasing the probability of increased man-caused fires.

I have been told by the rural fire chief, Torrey Sheen, that June 1 will be when the ban on open, controlled burning will be in effect in this area.

Based on the current conditions described above, a ban should be immediately enforced!

And, in the future, bans should be put into effect at much earlier dates and enforced for longer periods when such dangerous conditions exist. 

I hope no one else will be put in the scary position of possibly losing their home and all their personal belongings, not to mention the danger to their families and animals, due to a "controlled burn" which becomes uncontrollable and could have been prevented.


Joe M Ratliff

Grass Valley