Although a burn ban has been in effect since Sept. 27, daily fires have been popping up throughout Clay County.
Information provided by Emergency 911 dispatchers at the Clay County Justice Center shows more than 55 fires have been reported throughout Clay County with approximately 48 potential illegal burn situations.
Various fire officials, who have spoken to The Brazil Times in the past few weeks, cite trash fires as a major source of many of the fires, while lit cigarettes tossed from vehicles a close second.
"The conditions are so bad, all it would take is an ember to start a fire," Clay County Emergency Management Director and Lewis Fire Chief Bryan Husband recently said. "It's just too dry to be burning anything right now."
Many farmers and rural homeowners take advantage of cooler fall temperatures to clear fence lines around their property by participating in "controlled burns" to remove debris, fallen tree limbs, tall grass, leaves and unwanted shrubbery.
Even with a few random rain showers and more supposedly on horizon, the dead foliage lying on the ground is still a problem.
"I just don't think that is an option for anyone this year," Van Buren Fire Chief Pete Taylor said. "It wouldn't take much for a small fire to get out of control very quickly."
Officials agree there needs to be more than a little bit of rain here and there to saturate the ground under the dead foliage.
"I believe (the Clay County Commissioners) are taking a "wait and see attitude" on the extension of the ban," Commissioner Paul Sinders said. "We are hopeful that we received sufficient rain over the weekend."
Once again, the commissioners will speak with local fire chiefs regarding their opinions about extending the burn ban scheduled to expire Tuesday.
"We speak to all the fire departments to get their opinion on the situation," Commissioner President Charlie Brown said recently. "They are the ones who battle blazes when they happen."
According to local weather forecasters, there is a chance of scattered rain for the Wabash Valley starting Tuesday, but dry conditions are expected to return Thursday afternoon.