More counties have requested open-burning bans since Sunday’s 4-thousand-acre fire in western Iowa. The dry winter vegetation’s perfect tinder for any spark, and Shenandoah fire chief Ron Fox says they’d had 8 fire calls by the middle of this week. In Nebraska City, crews were called out for three grassfires on Sunday afternoon alone — and that’s the day a big wildfire over in Pottawatamie County Iowa burned 4000 acres and destroyed four houses on the Iowa side. Fox says there’s no snow cover anywhere in the region and that may be part of the problem. He suspects that some are from farmers burning off fields, and he knows one started with a trash fire in a container, where embers blew out into the dry grass. Chief Fox says they count on alert residents to call in wildfires. Someone may spot it while driving by, the people who live nearby notice a wildfire and call it in, and the department takes its own water along, in big tankers that accompany the pumper trucks. It’s a demanding job keeping on top of every grassfire that breaks out this time of year. The danger’s the fire “back-drafting” on you, he says, losing trucks, and being unable to predict where the fire’s going to go. He adds it’s tough on the volunteers. And even with a volunteer force, he says it costs the fire department money every time they’re called out, putting strain on the budget. He’d like a break from everyone in the dry region. “Do not burn,” he declares simply. If you’re going to burn, he asks you do it in a barrel or incinerator, and stay there to watch it. By Wednesday afternoon there were 6 counties with burning bans…get the update by surfing to the public-safety department’s burn-ban website: