Officials urge Clay County residents to think before striking a match.
"People really need to think about what they are doing," Clay County Emergency Management Director and Lewis Township Fire Chief Bryan Husband recently told The Brazil Times. "It's just too dry to burn anything that is not contained right now. It's just not smart."
Shortly after 7 p.m., Monday, members of the Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Department, along with multiple other departments assisting and on placed standby, were dispatched to an "unattended open burn" in the area of 14000 South County Road 500 West that got out of control and damaged approximately six-eight acres of a nearby "standing corn field."
Husband said the amount of damages has yet to be determined as of press time.
"The fire, which was a high loss of income, could have potentially destroyed a farmer's livelihood," Husband said. "We were really thankful the wind died down."
According to Husband, if someone starts a fire, they are potentially responsible for any damages caused by the fire.
"No matter how big a fire is, if the wind picks up an ember and it starts a fire someplace, you are potentially responsible for the damages," Husband said. "You could be held financially responsible through a civil claim by the victim, and/or the fire departments could also fire a claim."
According to information provided by Clay County E911, local fire departments throughout the county have responded to more than 20 fires since Sept. 20. Due to the extreme dry conditions and high winds in the area, the Clay County Commissioners enacted a burn ban within all unincorporated areas within Clay County.
"It's just too dry out there right now to start a fire," Husband said. "It's going to take more than just one rain to fix the drought conditions in the county. We could be experiencing this all the way into December."