Osage County extends burn restrictions another 30 days

A range fire in northern Lyon County along the Osage County line on March 20 sets the sky aglow with flames and smoke. Photo by Matthew Fowler, Emporia Gazette.

 

The Osage County commissioners extended a month-long countywide burn ban Monday for another 30 days.

Bryce Romine, Osage County emergency management coordinator, asked the commissioners to extend the burn restrictions, noting a March 31 resolution expired April 28 if not acted upon by the commissioners.

The original resolution was issued due to recent dry weather and high winds that had fanned numerous fires, and resulted in numerous fire suppression runs by area volunteer fire departments.

Romine said that since the restrictions were put in place, citizens had been following the temporary rules by calling in fires when spotted, and landowners and pasture owners have been contacting the sheriff’s office before they start a fire.

“People have really been cooperating,” Romine told the commissioners. “We’re getting a lot of call-ins now.”

Although the resolution provides that violation is a misdemeanor, Romine said no citations had been issued during the last 30 days.

He said citizens’ cooperation was helpful, but he and most of the local fire chiefs were in favor of extending the ban for another 30 days.

Romine said the spring rangeland burning season is nearing its end, but “we haven’t had an awful lot of rain yet.”

The county commissioners agreed the dry conditions remain, but Osage County Commissioner Ken Kuykendall said some confusion had been caused by referring to the resolution as a burn ban.

“It’s not a burn ban,” Kuykendall said. “It’s burn regulations.”

Romine agreed that some people mistakenly believed the burn ban prohibited all outdoor burning, but the resolution applies the restrictions only when rangeland fire danger is very high or extreme or a red flag warning is issued by the National Weather Service. He said the misunderstanding resulted in some callers reporting fires that were legally set, but also encouraged more landowners to call before they set pastures ablaze.

The original resolution does not refer to a ban, but says the following activities are prohibited outdoors when fire danger is very high or extreme or a red flag warning is in effect:

  • Careless use and disposal of smoking materials, including cigarettes, cigars and pipes; all smoldering remains shall be discarded in inflammable containers and in a manner to reduce the potential for fires.
  • Building, maintaining, attending or using any open fire or campfire, except in permanent stoves or fireplaces or in barbecue grills in developed recreational sites or on residential home sites.
  • Burning of all fencerows, fields, wild lands, ravines, trash, debris areas or materials.

Romine said the purpose of the burn resolution was not to harass people, but to help them understand the danger of wildfire.

“Trying to educate the public is the important part of this,” he said. “We want them to think ahead to tomorrow, and think about the possibility of rekindling.”

When the burn restrictions were implemented March 31, Romine reported county fire departments had received 195 fire calls in the previous 30 days and 156 of those calls were reporting grass fires. Many of the fire calls were the result of planned burns that were rekindled by high winds, he reported.

“We did come real close to losing a large number of structures,” Romine said Monday.

While the resolution remains in effect county officials ask that anyone planning to burn to check the rangeland fire danger and contact Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121 before burning, and report their name and location of burn.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Romine at 785-828-3323 or the sheriff’s office at 785-828-3121.

See the burn ban resolution here.

See related story here.

The commissioners also approved a promulgation Monday at the request of Romine, endorsing an updated Osage County Emergency Operations Plan. The plan outlines policies and procedures of officials, personnel, government departments, and private and volunteer agencies during an emergency or disaster.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas