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Washington County still under burning ban

December 09, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Maryland's statewide burning ban, issued by the Department of Natural Resources on Nov. 26, was lifted Wednesday for all counties except those in Western Maryland.

Washington, Frederick, Allegheny and Garrett counties will remain under the ban, which prohibits outdoor burning near wooded areas and at state parks and other public lands.

DNR officials decided during a meeting Wednesday morning to lift the ban in areas of the state where Monday and Tuesday rainfall had sufficiently reduced the danger of fire.

An average of about a half-inch of rain fell across the state Tuesday, said Ric Lillard, of the Green Ridge Fire Center.


Although it appeared to have rained heavily at times Tuesday, Washington County received just two-fifths of an inch of rain, Lillard said.

"I was surprised, it seemed like it was more as it fell," he said. "There's no question that it was helpful."

He said DNR decided to keep the ban in effect in Western Maryland after checking the 10 DNR weather stations that measure precipitation throughout the state.

They also placed some weight on the status of a fire in Emmitsburg, Frederick County, that broke out last weekend.

He said the fire scene was checked Tuesday during the rainstorm and was found to be still quite hot.

Since Sept. 1, State Forest Service Personnel have responded to 404 fires that have burned 809 acres, he said.

Lillard said several additional inches of rain would have to fall to ease the drought. More rain is expected on Sunday.

Dry and sunny days like Wednesday "are called 'drying days,' because it's sunny and the leaves on the forest floor have time to dry out again," he said.

Without a canopy of leaves on trees to shade the forest floor, dead leaves heat up quickly and spread fires rapidly, he said.

"Dead leaves can dry out after a rain within an hour," he said.

Lillard said he believes most people are abiding by the ban.

"You always have the people who will burn anyway. They won't go through the trouble to find out if it's still in effect. But it has helped," he said.

Lillard said because of the ban, fewer people have been burning debris, which was a major source of fires in the county.

"It seems to have had the desired effect," he said.

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