By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Drought, wind prompt ban
Dry, windy conditions raise fire concerns
burn ban
Albert Fire Chief Charlie Keller, standing, and Barton County Fire District 1 Fire Chief Doug Hubbard tell county commissioners Wednesday morning of the need for a temporary countywide burn ban. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

With dry, windy conditions continuing to plague the area, the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning approved the establishment of a temporary countywide burn ban. 

“Persistent dry weather conditions have created a fire hazard situation within Barton County,” said Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller.  In light of this, local fire chiefs have asked that the commission prohibit open burning in Barton County by declaring a temporary burn ban until conditions improve.

“For the first time in my memory, Barton County has moved to the “Exceptional drought” on the U.S. Drought Monitor, she said. This is the most severe of the drought conditions. 

“So (county fire chiefs) would appreciate if the commissioners would consider establishing a ‘temporary’ burn ban, because we’re hopeful it’s going to rain at some point,” she said. “But this just to calls notice to how dry it is.”

The county is at the point where even a little bit of a spark from a cigarette butt or a dragging a piece of metal on the asphalt can start starting to fire, she said. 

Present for the meeting were Barton County Fire District 1 Fire Chief Doug Hubbard and Albert Fire Chief Charlie Keller. She has also heard from Ellinwood Fire Chief Spencer Proffitt, Great Bend Deputy Fire Chief Brent Smith, Barton County  Fire District 2 Fire Chief Jerry Strecker and Galatia Fire Chief Don Summers.

“Ever since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over the lamp in Chicago in 1856 and caused the Great Chicago Fire, the primary function of the fire services is prevention, and this for us as a prevention measure,” Hubbard said. “We know that the burn ban won’t prevent the accidental fires,” he said. “We’re just asking for some for some help with some prevention.”

“Other counties have them implemented already,” Keller said. 

And, he said they want to discourage burning because burn piles stay hot for a very long time and it doesn’t take much for them to reignite. He cited an incident where he poured 2,000 gallons of water on a pile that was set afire two months ago but was still smouldering.

“So as dry as we are, and no rain in the foreseeable future, this puts a little more teeth into what we’re trying to do out here preventing fires,” Keller said of the ban,

The prohibition will remain in effect until conditions improve and it is revoked by the commission. The burn permit system is coordinated through 911 with the fire chiefs.

Agricultural burning for crop and pasture management practices may be exempted from this order only upon issuance of a written permit by the fire chief having jurisdiction of the area where the burning is to take place. Any questions concerning local burning, should be directed to the appropriate fire chief. 

The chief may or may not issue an agricultural burning permit. 

Violation of this burn ban resolution result in fines of up to $1,000.