Dry conditions prompt burn ban

Dry conditions prompt burn ban

TILLMAN CO. (KSWO) - County Commissioners in Cotton, Jefferson, Jackson, and Tillman counties approved a burn ban this week due to the extreme fire danger in the area.

Some areas in Tillman County haven't seen more than a tenth of an inch of rain 92 days. Frederick firefighter, Capt. Justin Green said with the drought and wind, wildfires are likely which is why a burn ban just went into effect.

"We've actually had some burns that were from controlled burns getting out of control," he said, "so if we just eliminate that then the chance of having damage done by fires...the risk lowers."

The burn ban in Tillman County prohibits outdoor burning, including controlled burns and fire pits. Green said the only exception is for cutting and welding, but even those activities come with stipulations. Green said fires spread quickly in these dry conditions.

"We have had some in the past that we can't really catch in a fire truck," he said. "You almost have to go out in front of it and do what we call a back burn to stop it because you can't catch it because it's burning so fast."

Green said he doesn't see it getting better anytime soon with no rain in the forecast, and even the most controlled fire might not be worth starting.

"You can always wait until later. It's not a life or death situation. If you have to burn some grass right now so you might as well just wait," he said.

While the conditions are like this, Green said a fire can start by something as simple as pulling off the highway into the tall grass. He recommends drivers try to stay on the pavement, or pull onto a side road.

If someone starts a fire during a burn ban, not only can they face a $500 fine and jail time, people are also responsible for the damage caused to another people's property. The burn ban for Jefferson County is just seven days while the other three are for two weeks.

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