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Concerns about dry weather & fire danger prompt burn bans

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 8:14 PM CDT
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BROOKINGS COUNTY, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -As the hot and dry weather spell continues, some counties are putting burn bans in place. That includes Brookings County. Officials there say fire conditions are very high to extreme.

According to Bob Hill, Brookings County Emergency Manager, several recent incidents are what prompted them to enact a burn ban. Over the weekend a burn pile north of Sinai got out of hand and burned down an abandoned house and 30 hay bales.

“One of the local fire chiefs yesterday during the county commission meeting, he spoke up and he said one thing I’ve got to watch out for is my fireman because it’s so hot out there and the conditions are so dry, sometimes the fire just starts going and starts roaring and it can overwhelm us real quickly,” said Hill.

The burn ban means a fire danger emergency is declared and all open burning without a permit is prohibited.

“If you absolutely don’t have to burn something, don’t even think about burning it. If you feel it’s an emergency and it needs to be burned contact your local fire chief and he’ll help you determine the best way if it can be done,” said Hill

Hill says it’s going to take moisture to fix the problem.

“And more than just one rainfall cause right now the ground is just so dry. Even the national weather service is putting out that there’s no measurable precipitation in the forecast,” said Hill.

Minnehaha County has not yet issued a burn ban, but it’s something they are considering in the future.

“That’s always a concern when we have this dry weather,” said Jason Gearman, Minnehaha County Emergency Manager.

As fires continue to be a threat, there are some things we can all do to help prevent them.

“Smoking. Don’t be smoking in grassy areas. Smoke in approved areas where there’s low grass or gravel or asphalt,” said Jay Wickham, of the South Dakota Wildland Fire office.

“Use common sense. You know, with this wind today nobody should be burning. And if you’re going to burn a fire pit, campfire, make sure you extinguish it at night because the wind can come up if nobody’s out there monitoring it,” said Gearman.

“This may sound weird, but you know, they need to put the hands in those coals and make sure they are completely out and not just pour some water on top,” said Wickham

Hill says another concern is drought conditions affecting crops since Brookings is an agricultural county.

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