Firefighters: Lawnmower sparked grass fire

GREEN ACRES, Ore. - A lawnmower sparked a grass fire on Sunday, and the operator suffered minor burns to his hands and singed his hair trying to put it out, fire officials said.

A local fire chief spotted the flames and units responded before the fire reached any homes, the Coos Forest Protective Association said.

"The fire doubled in size and was starting to build momentum," said Cory Bryant with the association. "It wouldn't have been long before it would have been too big for a quick initial attack knock down. If the fire had reached the hill, it is almost certain homes would have been involved."

Green Acres Fire Chief Steve Quackenbush spotted the flames off Luscombe Loop Road.0 He went to the fire hall to grab an engine, and units from CFPA that happened to be nearby responded.

The fast action kept the fire to a quarter of an acre.

The landowner was cited for violating the Regulated Use Closure, which prohibits mowing dry grass between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., CFPA said.

According to CFPA, landowners will sometimes mow the dead dry grass in an attempt to reduce the risk of fire.

While keeping grass short does reduce the potential for a fire, mowing when it is hot and dry can be a fire threat itself.

The 26,000 acre, $36 million Stouts Creek fire was also started by mowing dry grass during restricted hours, officials said.

Officials also said that the 56-acre Whiskey Run Fire north of Bandon was started by an ATV operating off an improved road, which was also a violation of the Public Use Restrictions. Suppression of that fire is likely to be in the $100,000 range.

"These people didn't plan on starting a forest fire, but they did," CFPA said in a press release.

In Oregon, the state is required to pursue the cost of suppression if the person that started it is willful, malicious or negligent.

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