Dryness lingers, burn bans widened in downstate counties

Inside INdiana Business

Dryness has expanded in Indiana and more counties are invoking burn bans. (image courtesy of National Drought Mitigation Center)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Parts of the state hasn’t received measurable amounts of rainfall in weeks, leaving many counties abnormally dry.

The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates three-quarters of the state is considered dry or in some form of drought, prompting four additional downstate counties to issue burn bans on Friday, bringing the total to 20 counties where tougher rules on open burning are applied.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says burn bans are decided at a local level by township, city or county governments.

The department and the Indiana fire marshal encouraged Hoosiers living in a county with a burn ban to adhere to the local laws governing the county.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 23% of the state is considered drought-free, 57% is rated as abnormally dry and 19% is described as in moderate drought. A slight portion of Harrison County is rated as severe drought. In comparison, 55% of the state was considered free of drought or abnormal dryness last week.

The state Department of Agriculture encouraged farmers to take precautions as harvest begins. Dry conditions, coupled with hot farm equipment, pose an added risk for farm-related fires.

“Farm vehicles get hot and dusty during harvest season,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana’s Homeland Security director. “Knowing that, it’s important to keep this equipment clean from dust and debris, and to inspect fuel lines and electrical systems regularly. These are important steps farmers can take to ensure their safety and the safety of others.”

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