Just like last year, the Crawford Couny Commission has issued a burn ban in the month of July. However, unlike last year’s burn ban, the 2012 ban has started sooner and is more comprehensive. Also, the county sheriff told The Morning Sun that he wouldn't enforce a portion of this year's ban.
County Commissioners heard from John Gagliardo, county 911 administrator, and Scott Crain, Pittsburg Fire Chief, before passing a ban on all outside burning.
“The lack of rainfall we’ve had hasn’t helped at all. There is a high risk of fires. It’s pretty fortunate we didn’t have any problems from the Fourth of July,” Gagliardo said.
Last year’s burn ban went into effect on July 22 and lasted for two months, being lifted on Sept. 23. This year’s starts on July 6 and there is no relief in sight for the coming weeks.
Crain said that a look at the forecast for the next 10 days shows little rain to come.
“We’re expecting that it could be six to eight weeks possibly with the forecasts we have,” Crain said. “A little bit of rain’s not going to do us any good. It’s going to take a sufficient rain.”
Unlike last year’s burn ban, this year’s burn ban includes all outside burning, including gas and charcoal grills. Gagliardo said some small grass fires have started by improper disposal of coals. He also said that officials have held off on the request for a burn ban because of the July 4 holiday, but that they could not wait any longer.
Sheriff Sandy Horton said his department would not take any actions to enforcing the barbecue grills portion of the burn ban. The rest of the ban, he said, would be enforced. He called the burn ban’s ruling on grills “poorly thought out and ill-conceived.”
“I really would like to see common sense prevail when it comes before the commissioners,” Horton said. “In my opinion, that didn’t happen today when it comes to the grills. As far as a reckless disregard to charcoal, throwing it in the yard and it catches on fire, that’s different; that’s a total disregard for the situation and conditions. I don’t know of any fires started in that regard. To my knowledge, it hasn’t happened. To tell 40,000 people that they can’t go out and cook on their grills when it is hot and they shouldn’t want to use their ovens is ridiculous and uncalled for. I have instructed the deputies that that portion of the burn ban will not be enforced. I think it would have behooved the fire departments to have a conversation with local law enforcement to enforce these issues. It’s easy to say we’ll enforce it, but the ones who have to do it don’t have the numbers to do it.”
Page 2 of 2 - Burn bans are relatively rare in Southeast Kansas. Last year, Crain noted that there haven’t been many burn bans in the county over the last few decades. When the burn ban went into place, he said that he hadn’t seen a burn ban for more than a day or so since 1980. Last year’s two-month ban was the longest in many years.