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Drought leaves county tinder dry
County commission approves burning ban for this week
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This time of year, almost anything can happen.
You can look back in Kansas history and find evidence of almost any kind of weather pattern short of blizzards in July and August.
On the other hand, those who have lived here for any time at all are also aware that the pattern we are in tends not to bust easily, so it would be most common that the drought and heat are here to stay.
And it is because of that historic evidence that public officials are starting to take action for the protection of the community.
Tuesday morning that action was taken by the Barton County Commission when it approved a six-day long burning ban in the county.
What that means is that most burning, including trash burning and open camp fires, are illegal. In addition, any agricultural burning has to be approved by the local fire chief.
That is to make sure that conditions, including the wind speed, are considered, Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller explained to the commissioners.
Miller added the ban is only for six days this time because the county regulations only allow it to extend from one commission meeting to another.
If the county remains without appreciable rain, this issue will be addressed again next Monday, she noted.
This was done with the agreement of the county fire chiefs and over the weekend, it was explained, the chiefs let it be known that they were issuing a burning restriction, to make sure that there was as little agricultural burning as possible, because of the fireworks.
Nevertheless, the commissioners were told, it was a busy weekend for some fire companies.
Ellinwood Fire Chief Christ Komarek, commenting on the area’s extremely dry conditions, told the commissioners that much of the county escaped damaged over the July 4th weekend, however, he added, Great Bend Fire Department responded to 21 calls.
“Most of the fires were small,” Komarek commented.
But it doesn’t take a lot to get a serious brush fire going in Barton County right now, the fire chief added. “We’re in an extreme drought.”
According to the National Weather Service in Wichita, there is a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms tonight, followed by a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms on Thursday and 40 percent Thursday night, though the heat is forecast to remain in triple digits for the week.
Longer range forecast models also include chances late next week, however those are only for “scattered” storms as well.
As weather experts note, barring a major frontal effect on statewide or regional weather, these storms could miss whole sections of the state, even if they do benefit isolated locations.
Until the weather pattern changes, fire officials warn, the county needs to take precautions to insure that major brush fires are avoided