A burn ban has been implemented countywide for Harrison County beginning at 12pm today, after a majority vote by the county fire chiefs. With the current conditions and future outlook for weather in the area, conditions are favorable to have another large-scale fire in the county. Currently, projections show that if we have record setting wet snow this winter, we would remain about 1.5” below average precipitation for 2022. Last week not only did Harrison County experience a large-scale fire, there were also significant fires that prompted evacuations in Montgomery County, Fremont County, Lancaster County, Douglas County, and other counties in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa. All of Harrison County is currently in some sort of drought conditions. These range from a moderate drought to abnormally dry, but the drought conditions continue to deteriorate as the weeks go by.
Fuels are dry, and we have harvest going on which increases our risk from operating equipment. Obviously, a ban doesn’t help that, but it can reduce some risk with people burning trash, tree piles, and other activities. Fire Chiefs always have the option of approving a permit for a specific site and time under the right conditions but is the exception and not the rule. This often happens for primarily land management operations when prescribed fire is being conducted by trained and experience professionals (i.e., county conservation). Iowa Code 100.40(3) states: A proclamation issued by the state fire marshal pursuant to this section shall not prohibit a supervised, controlled burn for which a permit has been issued by the fire chief of the fire district where the burn will take place, the use of outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills, properly supervised landfills, or the burning of trash in incinerators or trash burners made of metal, concrete, masonry, or heavy one-inch wire mesh, with no openings greater than one square inch. If a resident is issued a permit, the fire chief should fax the permit to the Harrison County Communications Center at 712-644-3711 and the resident must call before starting the fire. The resident needs to have the permit before burning.