Fire department starts blaze to control grass near rec center

Trevor Ivan

Smoke filled the sky for more than an hour yesterday afternoon near the Student Recreation and Wellness Center as the fire department lit a controlled fire to maintain the prairie grass around the building.

“This is our fourth year doing the burn,” said Heather White, manager of Campus Environment and Operations. “The fire gets rid of weeds and other grasses we don’t want. Those grasses that we do want have longer root structures and will return after the fire.”

White said the weather determines when the burn will take place each year, as the grass needs to be dry.

“There’s a front moving in … If we didn’t do it today, we would have had to wait several more days for things to dry out again,” she said.

White said the Kent Fire Department lights and controls the fire. Air handlers inside the rec center were closed during the fire to prevent smoke from entering the building. University police were stationed at the intersection of Summit Street and Campus Center Drive to direct traffic when the smoke became especially heavy.

Contact public affairs reporter Trevor Ivan at [email protected].