Dry weather makes burn ban possible
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Lake County Emergency Management issued an advisory during the weekend announcing that prolonged excessive heat and dry conditions could lead to a burn ban and drought declaration for Lake County.|
A burn ban within the county -- which would be issued by the Lake County commissioners -- would restrict all open fires.
Madison Fire Chief Randy Minnaert said that he had sent e-mails this morning (Monday) to other area fire chiefs asking for their opinions on the current level of fire danger.
"I would think that this situation we have with dry conditions should be on everybody's mind," Minnaert said. "We need to be very careful and minimize our risk."
Don Thomson, county emergency management director, has also asked local residents to help reduce the hazards that could contribute to the breakout of a major fire.
Thomson said in an announcement from the emergency management office, "Extreme caution should be considered for any open fires... All fires should be attended at all times and extinguished properly when no longer needed or in use."
He also noted that the city of Madison only allows open-pit fires if they are covered with a screen and if they are located at least 10 feet away from any structure.
Thomson said residents could reduce fire hazards caused by trees, shrubs and plants by watering regularly around homes and businesses to keep the plants alive as well as keeping them from drying out. Property owners should remove dry vegetation and dispose of it.
Ag producers are advised to maintain their field equipment with special attention applied to machinery bearings and gears.
The National Weather Service has projected that drought development is likely for the Lake County area. Last Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, classified the Lake County area as a border region for conditions that are abnormally dry in the north and in moderate drought to the south.
NWS officials also declared a heat advisory until 8 p.m. tonight (Monday) for a region that included Madison, Brookings and Flandreau. The heat index was forecasted to increase to the 100- to 108-degree range. Residents were advised to reduce the risk of exhaustion and heat stroke by avoiding strenuous activities until the evening hours.
In his announcement, Thomson said 2012 "has been an above average year for temperatures and for most areas a very dry year." He added, "...the seasonal weather conditions are about a month earlier than normal."
Among the areas for concern locally are the subsoil moisture levels decreasing and reduced outflow from streams and lakes.
According to Thomson, the excessive heat and prolonged dry spell has caused damage to crops and more noticeably to lawns for city residents.
"If current conditions persist, the county may have to implement a burn ban and then follow up with an agricultural drought disaster," Thomson said. "The drought declaration will not be able to help residential areas, but could help agricultural businesses.
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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