MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — It’s warm and sunny in central Indiana, perfect conditions for a little yardwork and burning through those leaves that have fallen.
“This time of year, everybody ends up burning leaves off,” said Jason Allen, the Public Information Office for the Monroe Fire Protection District.
But, several local fire departments are asking folks to hold off on any open flames.
“With as dry as we are, it doesn’t take much for fire to spread in these conditions,” Allen said.
Monroe County is one of more than 20 Indiana counties to issue a burn ban.
“Don’t open burn, don’t burn trash, don’t burn vegetation,” said Justin Baker, the deputy director of Monroe County Emergency Management. “Just be careful.”
Allen with the Monroe Fire Protection District firefighters has already been out on multiple brush fires this week.
A fire burned three acres of wildland along Streacher Road in a rural section of Monroe County earlier this week.
Allen said the Monroe Fire Protection District covers more than 300 square miles of the county, and multiple fires in dry conditions like these can put a strain on the department.
“There’s sometimes we get large ones that are out of control that take up a few of our stations and then that can be on one side of the county and then we get something on the other side of the county and that will take up all of our resources to go up there,” Allen said.
But it’s not just land that’s in danger, a fire department in Greene County saw brush fire flames spread to someone’s home.
“It’s actually pretty common with out-of-control wildland fire to hit homes and structures and that’s what we don’t want to have happen,” Allen said.
Fire departments in Brown, Rush and Bartholomew counties have posted about fires they’re dealing with this week.
Weather Authority Meteorologist Krista McEnany said this many county burn bans at once isn’t something we see too often but the conditions are perfect for it.
“We’ve been dry for pretty much the entire season to where abnormally dry and even drought conditions have reemerged in the state,” she said.
Relief could be on the way soon, though.
“We have a couple of rounds of rain that will come on through and while our first one, I wouldn’t say a whole lot for Friday, we’ll go through a dry weekend and then another round of rain will help us out next week, as well,” McEnany said.
If a brush fire does start up near you, Allen said don’t waste time trying to put it out yourself, call the professionals.
“We always encourage people don’t wait and try to put it out yourself,” Allen said. “Call 911, get us en route and get us coming to help you.”
Allen said even if we do see some rain this weekend, that doesn’t necessarily mean the burn ban will be lifted. The burn ban in Monroe County is in place till Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. and could be extended.
To check if there is a burn ban in your county, check out this state map.