Recent Grass Fires On Guam Called ‘Suspicious’

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Fire department responded to 78 fires in March

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 1, 2014) – The Guam Fire Department suspects some of the grass fires the department has responded to recently were not of a typical nature. Firefighters extinguished a fire in one area and subsequently found an incendiary device, which sparked their suspicion.

"We have reason to believe that some of these fires were intentionally set," said Lt. Ed Artero, GFD spokesman. "An incendiary device was located in the southern area of Guam, which is where some of these fires were."

Artero said the case is currently being investigated. He added that fires are categorized as accidental or intentional and intentionally starting a fire would be considered arson.

GFD continues to remind the public to refrain from burning of any kind, whether it is debris-clearing or burning trash, because it could lead to an accidental fire.

Artero stressed that burning trash is against the law and residents should dispose of their garbage properly.

GFD personnel have been assisting each other with fires in various locations on island, Artero said. "We have multiple units assisting with one jurisdiction, but it is as expected this time of the year," he said. "The guys pretty much anticipate it – they gear up for it; they make sure they have their hydration."

In March alone, GFD has responded to 78 grass fires.

"We’re getting the dry grasses here and there isn’t as much moisture out there – any fires that do start up spread quickly," said Kenneth Kleeschulte, a meteorologist at the Guam National Weather Service.

Despite a wet start to the dry season caused by a couple of weather systems in January, local weather has returned to normal conditions for this time of year. According to Kleeschulte, the drought index for Guam is currently in the "high" range, but it is not abnormally high for the island's dry season.

Kleeschulte said Guam’s Keetch Byram Drought Index, or KBDI, measurement was in the 500s yesterday.

The highest KBDI measurement can reach the 800s during the driest time of the island’s dry season, which is usually toward June, Kleeschulte said.

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