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Officials urge caution after string of grassfires

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Emergency crews knock down 16 fires in one week

By Molly Haines

Sixteen grass fires were reported in Owen County last week, despite Kentucky’s “no burn season” having started Feb. 15.
Each year on this same date, the Kentucky Division of Forestry enters a “no burn season” when it’s against the law to set fire from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to any flammable material located within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.
The regulation prohibits the burning of tires, garbage, construction debris, demolition debris, appliances, cars, buses, trailers and all other materials.
Owenton Fire Chief David Lilly said last week’s fires were not in one particular part of the county, but all fire departments responded to calls.
“You’ve got the wind blowing and it’s drying everything out,” Lilly said. “A lot of the fires were not being watched. The temperatures have gone up and people are starting to get outside and clean up their yards and branches. The wind takes the moisture out of the grass and it’s easy for it to catch.”
Lilly said even burning in containers isn’t safe this time of year because the wind can blow embers out of the container and cause a grass fire.
No major acreage has been burnt, Lilly said.
“We’ve been able to respond quick enough to them,” Lilly said. “I would never suggest people try and put out a grass fire on their own. They should always call the fire department.”
Lilly said the amount of grass fires seen this month is unusual.
“It’s up for this time of year,” Lilly said. “We don’t typically start seeing this until sometime in March. However, the burn ban always begins Feb. 15 of each year, just like clockwork.”
Even those burning after 6 p.m. should take precautions, Lilly said.
“If burning is to take place after 6 p.m., it should only be things that are of natural growth,” Lilly said. “The forestry department allows burning in the evening because after the sun goes down there’s more moisture in the air. Even if you’re going to burn at night, you need me to be very cautious. If the wind’s blowing, those embers will carry. Stay with the fire and always be prepared.”
Lilly suggests that if you plan to burn after 6 p.m., call 911 to report a controlled burn.
The ban ends April 30.