DANVILLE — Hendricks County Commissioners have decided to impose a burn ban because of the increasingly drought-like conditions.
The ban was requested by the Hendricks County Fire Chiefs Association.
"It's our intention to be proactive," said Dan Smith, who was representing the association at Tuesday's commissioner meeting and works for the Avon/Washington Township Fire Department. "We've had several fires from discarded smoking materials and are concerned about that."
The burn ban is similar to the one the county imposed in 2010.
"The difference is this one is open-ended," said Mike Graham, administrator for the commissioners. "In 2010 we had it in seven-day increments."
Commission President Eric Wathen said there were a lot of misconceptions with the previous ban.
"Basically we're saying we don't want you burning big brush fires or that sort of thing," he said.
Campfires are still permitted as long as they're in a fire ring. Trash may be burned in barrels that have a mesh screen on their openings.
Personal use of fireworks are also permitted, but only because state statute doesn't allow officials to ban them when the conditions are unfavorable.
"We can only encourage them to be cautious," Smith said.
Wathen took that one step further.
"Go watch the professionals do it," he said. "We're asking people to use common sense."
That includes the following:
- Don't leave barbecue grills unattended when in use and place them on concrete instead of grass.
- Don't discard lit cigarettes out of car windows.
- Don't allow the exhaust pipe on parked motor vehicles to come into contact with grass, leaves, or weeds.
- With fireworks, don't let children use lighters or matches, don't be near a building when lighting them, and discard used fireworks in a bucket of water.
Commissioner Phyllis Palmer said the conditions outdoors warrant a temporary burn ban.
"I think this is necessary," she said. "We need to be proactive."
Monday afternoon six fire departments responded to a field fire near County Roads 225 East and 300 South. While they were able to contain the fire before it reached any buildings, it still consumed about 35 acres. Its cause remains under investigation.
"This year has been especially dry with drought conditions being present, along with high temperatures," Lt. Troy Clements of the Danville Fire Department said in an e-mailed statement. "It is imperative to be on the lookout for fires and to call 911 immediately should you see one. Fires can quickly spread faster than many imagine with dry conditions and wind. Firefighters are at an increased risk due to these conditions. Please use extreme care in your water usage, as large amounts may be needed for fire suppression."
Both Brownsburg and Danville officials have asked residents to do all they can to conserve water during the drought-like conditions.