Burn Ban in Effect for Stephens County

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

The Stephens County Board of Commissioners on Monday voted to enact a burn ban for all of Stephens County after hearing from Stephens County Emergency Manager Gary Curtis.

Speaking during the New Business item on the agenda, Curtis said that he had polled area fire department chiefs in the area and eleven had agreed that the burn ban was necessary.

“They said the amount of fires is going up now, with people doing controlled burns in the area,” Curtis said. “I started looking at NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] for what our forecast was…we should reach a temp of over 104 today, then cooling to 99 or so during the middle of the week, and then back up to the high hundreds over the weekend.”

Curtis said that forecasts for the next 14 to 18 days do not include any significant precipitation that would bring relief to the current drought situation.

“Long-term forecasts were saying there are very little chances of rain for the next two months,” Curtis said. “We’re in a ‘slight drought’ right now, but in the next two weeks we’re looking at being in a more severe drought.”

The burn ban can be imposed for 14 days at a time, and may be removed by a vote of the Commissioners at any point.

Curtis emphasized the importance of informing the public about the burn ban.

“The last one we had, even though it went on for several months, [departments] were going out on fires and people were saying, ‘We didn’t know we had a burn ban,’” Curtis said. “I don’t know how much more information we can get out about it.”

Curtis added that he would contact local banks to see if the burn ban notification could be displayed on marquees throughout the county.

“There should be no reason people wouldn’t know there’s a burn ban,” Curtis added.

The burn ban includes exceptions for road construction equipment, welding/torch grinding activities, and outdoor cooking in a grilling receptacle. Under the ban, all fireworks are prohibited.

Enforcement of the ban is left to local law enforcement entities; any person convicted of a violation is subject to misdemeanor charges and/or a fine of up to $1,000 and may include imprisonment for not more than one year.



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