Last Year's Drought Inspires New Burn Ban Legislation

Published 07/15 2013 06:30PM

Updated 07/15 2013 07:01PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- At this point last year, we had a nearly 9-inch rain defecit.

The dry conditions fueled numerous fires, many of which started from outdoor burning. That inspired a new piece of legislation on burn bans which goes into effect on August 28. Officials are restructuring how bans are implemented to reduce the spread of fires.  

The old burn bans were implemented at the district level, but there can be multiple small districts within one county. For example, there are more than a dozen districts within Greene county. This makes it difficult to coordinate bans.

The new measure will allow burn bans to be implemented at the county level. Plus, the word can be spread to the public -- via local media and social media -- in a more timely manner.

Ryan Nicholls, Greene County Emergency Management Director, explained the logic behind the change.

"When you're dealing with burn bans -- you know, drought and extreme heat -- you know it's going to be pretty widespread geographically, so it just makes sense that at the county level we can enforce that."

The main way bans are enforced is from public complaint. You're urged to call 911 if you see someone burning under a ban. The penalty is still under discussion. One possibility that's mentioned in the state legislation language is up to one year of jail time.

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