Jefferson County instituting 30-day burn ban

Matthew Triponey

 In light of recent dry conditions, the Jefferson County commissioners approved a motion at their meeting on Tuesday to institute a burn ban beginning at noon on Thursday, July 28.

Tracy Zents, the county emergency services director, recommended the ban mainly because of the potential for wildfires to spread. Though a few days over the past week have brought rain to the area, Zents said, the county is still down about four inches of rainfall from the same time last year. He polled local fire chiefs, and the majority were in favor of the ban.

The ban targets open burning, which is defined as "the ignition and subsequent burning of any combustible material, including garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, paper, vegetative matter involved with land clearing or any sort of debris out of doors."

Burning is permitted in a covered burn barrel. The resolution passed by the commissioners also doesn't cover the use of propane or gas stoves, charcoal briquette grills or tobacco. Campfires are permitted as well, so long as they are successfully contained in fire rings.

It is considered a summary offense to violate the burn ban after it's in place. Violators will be fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for the third. Any sworn police officer, including the state police, has the power to enforce the resolution.

"Everybody just needs to be cognizant of the current conditions out there," Zents said. "We know it may be a hardship for some people ... We just ask them to be patient until conditions improve."

For more from the County Commissioners' meeting this week, see Thursday's print edition of The Spirit.