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March 21st, 2011

Another sign of spring: brush fire season

Let me remind everyone that, even when the ground is completely saturated with water, it takes only a couple of days of warmer weather and a bit of a breeze to turn the dead foliage above ground level bone-dry and ready to burn. Until everything starts to green up, "controlled" burns can get out of control and spread with surprising speed -- surprising to people who think they've got it under control. In fact, early spring fires can be even worse because the ground is too wet to get brush trucks out into the fields, leaving us with a choice between going at it with hand tools or standing by along the road and hoping the fire doesn't get to anything of value before it reaches us. I've seen flames sweep across swamp grass over standing water. So please, if you feel you have to burn -- have a good fire break, keep the fires small, keep an eye on them, and don't burn at all when there's any breeze to speak of.



     A brush fire singed an outbuilding near Avilla Saturday, in one of three grass fires reported to the Noble County Sheriff's Department over the weekend.
     A controlled burn is believed to have started the blaze, which broke out near 8340 E SR 8 at about 6:48 p.m. Flames spread over a grassy area on the south side of the highway, burning up to an old outbuilding that was not far from a larger barn on the property. The outbuilding actually caught on fire, leaving the side charred, but firefighters were able to contain the blaze before the wooden structure went up and spread the fire further.
     No one was injured in the fire, which took firefighters from Avilla and Kendallville about 25 minutes to bring under control. An Albion brush truck was called to the scene, but wasn't needed.
     Avilla fire trucks also responded Friday afternoon to a fire that burned an area of grass on Lemper Road, near Avilla. A similar fire broke out along Lakeshore Drive near Big Lake about half an hour later, and was put out by Noble Township firefighters.
     In addition, Noble Township firefighters assisted with a utility pole fire that dropped a live power line on the road near 3784 W 300 S Saturday evening.


     Fire last week destroyed a storage shed near Chain O' Lakes state Park.
     The wooden structure was already in flames when a resident of 0590 S 75 E noticed it burning at about 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 16, according to the Noble County Sheriff's Department. The cause of the blaze was undetermined, and remains under investigation. No injuries were reported.
     The shed reportedly contained power tools such as a lawn mower and similar equipment, along with some fuel. By the time a Sheriff's Deputy arrived minutes after 911 was called, the building was engulfed in flames and falling in on itself; it and the contents were totally destroyed.
     Six Albion and Noble Township fire units responded, returning to base at 4:27 a.m.
     Sheriff's Department dispatchers also received two reports of grass fires last week, marking the unofficial start of spring wildland fire season in Indiana. In addition, Ligonier firefighters were called out Thursday when a resident near the city set a burn barrel fire despite high winds, leading witnesses to dial 911 when sparks and smoke started swirling around a mobile home.
     Residents are asked to use extreme caution when burning, especially on breezy days. Before it greens up later in the spring, area foliage dries out quickly and can be extremely flammable.

Storm Chaser anthology off to Whiskey Creek

After finishing the last polish, I've finally sent Storm Chaser Shorts off to the submissions editor of Whiskey Creek Press. Ten short stories totally 15,000 words -- seven set before the events of Storm Chaser, and three set afterward, ranging from humor and action to one that's just a bit mystical.  I have no idea what changes they might want, or when the release date might be -- or even if they'll accept it at all, if it doesn't meet their expectations. After all, it's a separate submission from the original novel; it could still be rejected.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take a week or so off and try and catch up with some chores that need done, then dive back into other projects: The fire department history book, and getting Coming Attractions and Radio Red back into submission circulation. This is all contingent on when Whiskey Creek sends edits back on Storm Chaser -- should be any time now -- which naturally will become first priority.

Then I'll have to start working on the next novel!  Red is For Ick is still with the agent who requested a full, but unfortunately she's on maternity leave now. She's okay with simultaneous submissions as long as she knows about it, but I haven't had time to deal with that anyway.

Selling is as much a part of the full time job of writing as writing itself is. Must keep plugging away at it!

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