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Dry weather forces county to ban burning

Dry weather forces county to ban burning
Dry weather forces county to ban burning
Gerald Saulman of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept. hoses down a grass fire Friday afternoon off old S.R. 135 near the Old Capitol Saddle Club. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

As of Monday, June 18, all open fires excluding charcoal briquettes and propane grills, are banned until further notice in Harrison County.
The county commissioners enacted a Disaster Emergency Proclamation effective immediately Monday night at their meeting.
‘We are drier to date, with less moisture, than we were in 1999 when the entire state banned open burning,’ said Rick Kerr, head of the Harrison County Fire Chief’s Association.
It is Kerr’s hope that other counties will follow suit.
‘We are breaking ground,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of counties that want to put this ban on … If we put this ban in effect, the state will follow.’
The proclamation states that the following activities are prohibited: campfires and other recreational fires, open burning of any kind using conventional fuel such as wood or other combustible matter, with the exception of charcoal briquettes and propane grills.
The burning of debris, such as timber or vegetation, that results from building construction activities is also prohibited, as is the use of burn barrels for any open burning at residential structures.
‘We’re trying to be proactive and get ahead of the curve,’ said Greg Reas, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency.
A normal ban of this nature would only be in effect for seven days, yet this is not a normal season, the men said.
‘It’s likely to continue with dry, hazardous conditions without rain,’ said Kerr.
The ban is expected to be in effect through the fall.
‘When the fall comes, and the sun can penetrate to the ground floor of the forest, it will be very dangerous,’ warned Kerr.
Despite the rain some areas received yesterday (Tuesday), he said it would take a prolonged period of heavy rain to get back to normal.
With this proclamation set, the county will be able to receive state and federal help should a disastrous event occur, Reas said.
The Fourth of July celebration at Old Capital Golf Club east of Corydon will be allowed to continue, as professionals are producing the show and the fire department will be on hand.
‘We strongly encourage our citizens to attend public displays of fireworks (this Fourth of July) and limit their personal use of fireworks to those that do not leave the ground, and that they refrain from using aerial firework devices,’ said Kerr.
Persons in violation of the emergency law will be fined $250 for each vehicle on the scene of the fire.
The Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept. had planned to enact a burning ban on its own in the township, which it is allowed to do, according to firefighter Gerald Saulman, based on dry conditions.
Firefighters responded to a fire in a wheat field Saturday afternoon, which they believed was started when someone threw out a lit cigarette from a passing vehicle.
Saulman said the fire department also has responded to several ‘mulch’ fires recently, also believed to have started from burning cigarettes.
‘We have 100 square miles to cover, and we need people’s help,’ Saulman said. ‘They shouldn’t throw out burning cigarettes.’
Information for this story was also gathered by Editor Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor.

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