Crops and pasture lands drying from prolonged drought conditions across much of the state are adding fuel load for a potential field fire, one that can be sparked inadvertently by farm and ranch machinery. Mark Hinze of University of Nebraska Extension says operators can prevent such an occurrence with routine equipment maintenance, including checking belts, lubrication, and looking for worn, frayed parts.

"These things can all create wear and tear on the machine and so these things need to be specifically looked at, studied ahead of time before you use the machine or take it out into a potentially dangerous threatening environment."

He says that also includes checking that spark arresters and mufflers are in tip top shop. Hinze adds that machinery operators need to be aware of changes in the sight or sound of their equipment. A possible sign that maintenance is needed.