Extreme conditions prompt burn ban

Posted July 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm


As Clinton County and most of the Ohio Valley region is just coming out of one of the worst heat waves over an extended period in history, the drought-like conditions continue to persist, prompting an open burn ban which will remain in effect until further notice.

Clinton County Judge/Executive Lyle Huff, last Thursday, June 28, officially issued an open burning ban for the county with a “no outside burn order” being in effect until further notice.

Those extreme conditions also forced the Albany – Clinton County Chamber of Commerce to cancel the annual fireworks show that had been set to be staged on Tuesday night, July 3.

Normally held at the Clinton County Fairgrounds, it was feared that with the area being surrounded by dry grass fields, homes and wooded areas, the risks involved were just too dangerous to continue with plans to hold the show.

At presstime, it was not known if the show would be completely cancelled, or held at a later date after sufficient rainfall had eliminated the extremely dry conditions.

Although the extremely high temperatures early this week had subsided from the 103-106 degree range down to just the upper 90s and predicted to be in the mid-90s by late in the week, the lack of rainfall continues to make outdoor burning extremely dangerous.

The open burning ban states in part that, “due to excessive dryness and fire hazard conditions, pursuant to Kentucky Statute, I do hereby issue a No Outside Burn Order countywide, effective immediately, banning all open burning in all areas of Clinton County.

“This Order includes the lighting of fireworks and burning of any materials outdoors.

“A lack of rain in recent weeks has produced dry conditions in area grasslands and woodlands, lawn and shrubbery, which poses an increased risk of damage from wildfires, caused by open burning and fireworks.”

The order further states the ban will be lifted by order, “after sufficient rainfall to abate the hazardous conditions.”

Kentucky Revised Statutes provides for penalties for violations of not less than $50 nor more than $500.

The timing of the heat and especially the lack of rain also wasn’t an asset, as it is occurring through the July 4 holidays–when the setting off of fireworks is prevalent.

As noted in the burn order, fireworks was included for a reason, as they can cause fires quickly in such dry conditions.

The recent heat wave that struck the region and other parts of the country began early last week, with temperatures rising from around the mid-90 mark upwards to at or above 105 degrees and heat indexes up to 110 degrees over a period a few days, primarily this past weekend.

That excessive heat not only caused danger of fires, but health hazards as well, prompting heat stroke safety precautions to be issued throughout the state.

In recent days, several outdoor fires, including many grass fires, have been reported, keeping local fire departments on the alert and causing wildfires in woodland areas, burning several acres of woodland.

These situations include brown burnt lawns, gardens and crops being reduced in value and putting stress on other agricultural areas, such as heat stress on cattle.

Even though the dangerously high temperatures are expected to return somewhat to normal over the next few days, the problem of drought and no rain is now a major concern across the county and region, which may result in the outdoor burn ban being in place for sometime.

To add to the situation, the short range weather forecast also isn’t providing much relief, as little or no rainfall is being predicted over the next few days for the entire state.

Judge Huff said this past weekend his main concern was the safety of the citizens of Clinton County in ordering the open outdoor burn ban. Although he said it was an inconvenience for some residents, the danger of fires that could result in burning outdoors was too high to risk the safety of both property and persons.

The only exception to the burn ban related to a “fireworks display” overseen by a professional pyrotechnics company who does fireworks shows, or if the city of Albany government allowed for burning in situations within the city limits.

However, due to the extremely dry conditions, the annual Albany/Clinton County Chamber of Commerce fireworks display, which was scheduled to be held this past Tuesday night, July 3, was cancelled due to the high risk.

Albany Police Officer Jim Guffey and Clinton Deputy Sheriff Steve Martin were working to contain a grass fire on the Old Monticello Road last Thursday, when the first members of the Albany Fire Department arrived on the scene. The fire had spread through a yard and was less than 10 feet from the large wooden barn in the background when it was brought under control.