Fayette County

Fayette joins 20 counties with burning bans

Fayette County is the latest of 21 Kentucky counties where open burning has been banned because of unusually dry and warm weather, which adds to chances that fires could spread.

Bans in 20 counties in the southern and eastern parts of the state were implemented by the Division of Forestry. Fayette County imposed its own.

Even in counties without bans, burning is restricted until April 30, Division of Forestry spokeswoman Diana Olszowy said.

No open fires in any county are permitted between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Outside of those hours, fires must be manned at all times, and tools to put out the fire, such as water and sand, must be on hand.

No fires are permitted within 150 yards of a forest, she said.

Burning is not allowed at any time in counties with bans in effect.

Conditions of the ban can vary locally. In Fayette County, residents are prohibited from starting any type of open burning, including fire pits, and construction or trash burning. The ban does not apply to cooking grills.

Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs of the Lexington fire department said fines will be issued to those caught violating the ban, and fires will be extinguished.

Under similar weather conditions April 6, Lexington firefighters responded to a dozen mulch, brush or grass fires between 7 a.m. and about 6 p.m., including a mulch fire at The Mall at Lexington Green that damaged the exterior of the complex.

"It's very unusual for this to happen this early in spring. We just haven't had a lot of rain," Griggs said.

High winds and low humidity also have contributed to more than 700 wildland fires across the state this year; more than 23,000 acres have burned, according to data released by the Division of Forestry.

In 2009, more than 1,300 fires burned 41,000 acres, according to the Division of Forestry.

At noon Tuesday, four wildfires were active in Kentucky, three of them in Harlan County, Olszowy said.

Tom Priddy, extension agricultural meteorologist, said Kentucky was not in a drought, but if dry conditions continue, it could lead to one this year.

"We could see some problems start materializing as we start moving into the hot part of the year," he said.