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Commission lifts burn ban, for now
Conditions still dry and ban could be reinstated
burn ban lifted
Barton County Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller addresses the County Commission about removing the countywide burn ban Wednesday morning. The ban was lifted for now, but could be re-imposed should the need arise. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Although conditions remain dry and the area received less snow than local safety officials had hoped for, the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning lifted the countywide burn ban in place since wind-whipped wildfires ravaged parts of the Golden Belt in mid December.

“All the fire chiefs in the county said this is a good time to remove the ban,” at least for now, said Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller. There is the understanding, though, that it could be re-imposed should conditions warrant it.  

“We can wait and see how things progress,” Miller said. “We may ask for another one later if one is needed.”

Recent snows have been low in moisture content and there is still a lot of dried vegetation, she said. It only takes a cigarette ash or hot vehicle exhaust to spark a fire, and stiff Kansas breeze to spread it quickly.

“It’s still pretty dry,” said District 4 Commissioner Jim Daily. But, he’s had a constituent call him chopping at the bit to burn.

It was stressed that, even with a ban in place, fire chiefs can override that within their jurisdictions. But, a permit is required and fire officials can inspect a burn site.

It was also noted the permit holder is required to keep the fire under control. “They are responsible for their actions,” Miller said.

A burn ban covers anything with an open flame, commission Chairman Shawn Hutchinson, District 3, said. This includes barbecue grills, burn barrels and bonfires.

Miller said she’d keep the commission updated on conditions regularly and if a ban needed to be re-imposed.

“It is important,” said District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier, who is a farmer, of burning. Come March, ag producers will want to start to burn off ditches and pastures.