Don't be fooled into thinking that because we've had snow on the ground that it's safe to burn brush and grass.

In the past few weeks local firefighters have seen an uptick in the number of calls to extinguish fires that either got out of control or had the potential to spread.

The recent increase in brush and grass fire calls are the result of people burning dead foliage to clear fields for planting crops or just simply to clean up property.

To make matters worse, some of the burning has taken place during high wind periods.

Regardless of where we live, we all need to use common sense when starting a fire.

It takes only a few seconds for a small fire to become a raging, out-of-control blaze. Open fires should never be left unattended, and it's a good idea to have water nearby should flames get too high.

State law allows people to burn brush from around fence rows for agriculture purposes only. That's it. There are no other exceptions.

Responding to these calls is expensive. A property owner is charged several hundred dollars if a fire company is called out to a brush fire.

And even more costly is the danger firefighters face when they have to make a call that could have been avoided if some common sense had been used.