Five of the nine fire departments in Barton County have implemented burn restrictions in their jurisdictions, Barton County Communications Director Doug Hubbard told the County Commission Monday.
Those that have implemented the limitation include Albert, Beaver, Claflin, Great Bend and Pawnee Rock. Hubbard said Ellinwood and Hoisington are considering such action.
In other words, these fire chiefs and emergency professionals see a serious threat for fire. They should know. Over the past week, there have already been several small grass and ditch fires. There was even on wheat fire Saturday caused by a lightning strike – fortunately, the ensuing rain extinguished the blaze.
These are conditions that normally plague the region later in the summer. But, conditions are not normal this year. The mild winter and warm spring have sped the ripening of the area’s wheat crop. Combines could start rolling in a week or two, well ahead of usual.
Hot winds have whipped Central Kansas, turning it into a tinder box. In fact, most of the region is in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions except a small area of severe drought conditions, and is expected to stay there through May, the National Weather service reports.
So worried are authorities that, should things stay dry, they may request a county-wide burn ban. This may come as early as next week.
If these folks are concerned, we should be as well.
Some of the fire reported are suspected to have been started by a careless motorists flicking a cigarette out of a vehicle window. This is senseless and such action could lead to a major, destructive fire.
It is time for all of us to exercise caution.
We can’t stop bolts from above from igniting a wheat field, but it is up to us to do what we can to stop the preventable fires from scorching any more of the county than they already have.