Winter warm stretch hides overlooked dangers

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 18:30:23-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – While the unseasonably warm and in some cases, record-breaking temps in February afford opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, it also hides dangers we don’t typically think about in the dead of winter.

Brush fires, improper disposal of cigarettes, bonfires gone awry – all issues that can and have been overlooked during this stretch of warmth.

Grand Rapids Fire Chief John Lehman, speaking to FOX 17 News Monday, said safety is a mindset people need to get into.

“A lot of people I’m sure are out there trying to clean up their yards and the thought of burning that waste would be something that they might be used to but at this time of year it can really take off on you,” said Chief Lehman. “We see at this time of year, when we have these conditions with low humidity and things drying out with a little bit of wind…a lot of times we can have accidental fires start.”


Crews battle a brush fire along U.S. 131 and I-96 Monday. The increased warmth and dryness have made this a common occurrence across the Midwest region.

And it isn’t just fire. Ice is a big issue too. Hot temps have caused big melting over the course of the week, and now activities like ice fishing or pond hockey are increasingly more dangerous.

“Ice conditions right now are rapidly deteriorating - every couple hours we’re losing thickness in the ice,” said Chief Lehman. “Really check the thickness of ice. Anything less than 4 inches – it’s not safe for you to be out there.”

When it comes to fire pits or anything similar, keep in mind that Grand Rapids has a new ordinance that went into effect last fall. For frequently asked questions or to apply for a permit, click here.