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Firefighters Say Dry Conditions Have Them on Alert

MARION (CBS 2/ FOX 28)--When Iowa's soil and grass get drought-level dry, with every call, firefighters prepare for the worst. 
"We really pay close attention to that, realizing the potential for larger incidents, said Captain Rob Schlitter of the Marion fire department. 
On Saturday morning, a home in Urbandale burned down this morning, killing an 88-year-old man.
What caused the fire is still unknown, but officials say heat plus dry conditions made the scene too dangerous, even for firefighters.
"You have to do a risk benefit, said Urbandale Fire Chief Jerry Holt. Do you want to put people in there when there's not a high potential to save somebody's life?"
With 98 percent of the state now in dry conditions, firefighters say even the smallest spark can turn deadly.
"You really increase the chances of fire spreading and getting out of their control," Schlitter said.
Case in point, Cedar Rapids firefighters have put out five grass fires in just one week.
So until Iowa gets a little rain, officials are urging folks to use a little common sense.
"We want them to make sure that they are always attending their fires, that they have a means of extinguishment if they have it," Schlitter said.
"It certainly does move quicker through dry material than wet material." 

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