Warm weather, low humidity and strong winds are making for a foul combination across southern Iowa as the risk of wildfires is rising.

In the southwest, Page County Emergency Management Coordinator Kris Grebert says brush fires have been numerous in his area, with two fires just this morning in Shenandoah.

“Within the last week, we’ve had eight or nine grass fires that the different agencies — Clarinda, Shen, Essex, Coin — everybody’s responded to,” Grebert says. “So, they have been relatively busy.”

Fortunately, Grebert says the county has avoided structure damage from the fires.

“We’ve had pretty good luck with our agencies getting out there pretty quick and not having things get too far out of control,” Grebert says. “The homeowners have called us relatively early on in the process, and we’ve gotten everyone out there and everything put down before they spread too much. We’re just crossing our fingers and hoping nothing bad happens for a while.”

Grebert plans to meet with his counterparts across the county next week.

“I have been in contact with each of the fire chiefs from Essex, Shenandoah, Clarinda, Coin and Braddyville to discuss a possible burn ban,” Grebert says. “As of right now, we do not have one on in Page County. We’re hoping some rain will come Monday or Wednesday of next week, then we won’t have to worry so much about it.”

Fremont County’s fire departments are also on guard. Fremont County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Crecelius says virtually every department was out battling brush fires Wednesday night. Crecelius says conditions are ripe for disaster.

“If you have an alleged controlled burn — I always thought that was an oxymoron, because you can’t really control a fire — if it decides to do something, you’re going to lose it,” Crecelius says. “As dry as everything is, once it gets going, it can spread all over all sorts of places out there, because we’ve got a lot of dry ground, we’ve got dry vegetation all over the place.”

Red Flag Warnings are posted for Iowa’s three southern tiers of counties today, virtually everything south of Interstate 80.

(Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)