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Dry weather fuels concern over fire danger

Dry weather makes conditions ripe for fires

BARGERSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Twenty-six of Indiana’s 92 counties on Thursday were under burn bans, and that list could grow as the southern half of Indiana is in the midst of a dry spell.

Yet, burn bans could creep north.

Bargersville Deputy Fire Chief Michael Pruitt said Thursday that flames can spread fast through an open field fueled by dry weather and wind. “We’ve had our share of fires break out, through field fires throughout the county, some smaller fires along the roadways, which comes from people discarding cigarettes.”

It’s not just cigarettes, but out-of-control leaf burns also have caused brush fires in rural and suburban areas, especially if people doing the burning weren’t paying attention.

“Most of the time, people don’t follow the local burn regulations, whether they are state-level regulations or in their local community, and they get themselves in trouble because they don’t follow procedure, because they don’t do it safely, and it spreads, and they end up catching their neighbor’s property on fire,” Pruitt said.

The deputy chief for the fire department said no major fires have happened in his district, which covers parts of west-central Johnson County south of Indianapolis. However, the long, dry spell has his agency on high alert and has made fighting even the simplest fires very difficult.

“We’ve had farm implements this year catch on fire in the field and that’s spreads rapidly, not only in the machinery, but into the field.”

People who live in areas without burn bans, Pruitt recommended, should hold off on open burning until the fire threat passes. “As dry as it is right now, we need some substantial precipitation to take that threat away.”

Storm Track 8 meteorologists say rain is possible Friday, with totals mainly set to be in the range of a tenth of an inch to a quarter of an inch.

As cold weather arrive this weekend, Pruitt recommended people clean out chimneys and check on heaters to assure they are clear of dust or debris that could start house fires.