In an emergency meeting Monday, the Clay County Commissioners approved an ordinance regarding widespread fire hazards, along with a resolution declaring a burn ban for all unincorporated areas of the county.
Due to various fire weather watches issued recently by the National Weather Service in regards to low humidity, strong gusty winds and dry vegetation, the commissioners approved the ban, which is effective through Oct 15.
Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times that depending on the situation, the commissioners may choose to meet again to either extend or rescind the ban, or choose to let it expire on the chosen date.
According to the ordinance, the following activities are prohibited during the ban:
* Campfires and other recreational fires, unless enclosed with a fire ring at least 23 inches in diameter and 10-inches high,
* Open burning of any kind using conventional fuel such as wood or other combustible matter, excluding grills fueled by charcoal briquettes or propane, and
* Burning of any debris, such as timber, vegetation or any debris resulting from building construction activities.
In addition, charcoal from permitted grills shall not be removed until it has been thoroughly extinguished, and personal use of any and all fireworks are strictly discouraged.
The ordinance allows for burning in barrels where it is authorized, with the condition that "each such barrel must have a 1/4-inch mesh top; and burning in such barrel will be authorized from dawn to dusk only."
According to the ordinance, any person or group found in violation of the burn ban "shall incur a fine of $300 per day, with each day of being in violation being a separate offense."
Also, should any local or mutual aid fire departments be dispatched because of burning, those departments may seek civil action against the violator for the reimbursement of departmental costs associated with responding to the burn. In addition, the county is entitled to seek reimbursement for reasonable attorney fees in the event any court action is required for the enforcement of penalties.