What do burn bans cover, why are they issued?

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Burn ban. In most cases, that means don’t start a fire to burn a leaves or twigs or possibly garbage. But does it apply to a city or just rural areas?

The scope and coverage of a burn ban depends on the county and the ban.

Brown County issued a burn ban on June 11, said Scott Meints, the county’s emergency management director.

The ban includes all cities and rural areas in the county, Meints said.

Minnehaha County did not have a burn ban as of June 17, said the county’s assistant director of emergency management Doug Blomker.

Minnehaha County burn bans cover the rural areas and not cities, Blomker said.

What does a burning ban, ban?

The Brown County burning ban issued on June 11, covers the burning of twigs or cattails, for example, Weints said. It does not cover burn barrels, fire pits or campfires, Weints said.

However, in the past, the county has issued a burn ban that covers fire pits, outdoor barbecue pits and campfires, Weints said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A burn ban in rural areas of Minnehaha County may prohibit a controlled burn of brush but would allow a barrel fire if it’s covered with a grate, Blomker said.

But if the county bans fires even those which may be covered by a grate, a city may not have such a burn ban, he said.

“There’s a lot of gray area,” Blomker said of burn bans. In general, “You’ve got to weigh the situation,” he said.

If the county bans using fire rings constructed with rocks, it would discourage such fires in cities, Weints said.

Also the state of South Dakota may establish a ban on campfires but they may still be allowed if the county does not have a ban, Weints said.

The fire danger for Friday afternoon near Aberdeen was high, according to the National Weather Service grassland fire danger post for 5 a.m. on June 18.

When to do a burn ban

Local fire chiefs and the National Weather Service are among the players who help determine a burn ban, Weints and Blomker said.

“We look at how dry the vegetation is…we get input from rural fire chiefs…,” Blomker said.

“…we monitor the National Weather Service’s Grassland Wildfire Map…,” Weints said.

The National Weather Service’s grassland fire danger map.

If conditions are ripe for a fire, a burn ban will likely be declared.

Emergency management directors typically make the recommendation on a burn ban to the county board. The county board will declare a burn ban. Boards can establish bans for a certain period of time or leave the expiration open until conditions improve.

Burn bans can be in effect any time of the year.

For example, Brown County issued a burn ban in February because of fire danger.

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