If you see a firefighter -- and the majority of them are volunteers, especially the rural ones -- give them a pat on the back, or perhaps buy them a cup of coffee.
They'll need it.
That's because most of them are working their regular jobs in the day while fighting fires at night. City firefighters were at a structure fire last night while rural crews, assisted by crop dusters dropping water, battled a recurring grassfire south of Culbertson.
By unofficial count, some 22 grassfires occurred in Hitchcock, Dundy and Red Willow counties, most, but not all of them, touched off by a lightning storm which seemed to taunt us by starting fires in one place, dropping rain in another. McCook is almost 51⁄4 inches below normal moisture for the year.
It's especially dangerous this year because the wheat crop is maturing perhaps three weeks early and grasslands are tinder-dry, making the potential for fire that much greater.
Hopefully, the rains expected for the next few days will materialize, and drop enough moisture to alleviate the problem somewhat.
If not, we wouldn't blame fire officials if they banned fireworks this Fourth of July season, given the extra danger they pose during these dry conditions, especially in rural areas.
It's an especially good year to leave the fireworks to the professionals and support community fireworks displays.