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Burning ban lifted

December 26, 1998

BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

The burning ban for Washington, Frederick and Allegany counties was lifted earlier this week by officials with the Department of Natural Resources Forest Service.

The area remains in a drought. However, recent cold temperatures and rain and snow that fell this week were reason enough to end the ban, said DNR Regional Fire Manager Ric Lillard.

Lillard said the decision was made Friday morning following discussions with state and regional forest managers.

A statewide burning ban was put in place on Nov. 26, due to extremely dry conditions across the state. Forest fires burned acres of land across the state - more than 200 in Washington County alone. The ban was lifted for all but four Western Maryland counties on Dec. 9. The ban was lifted in Garrett County Dec. 18.

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"The primary reasons were the cold, winter weather and the number of fires really dropped (since the ban went into effect)," he said.

Lillard said fewer people burn trash outdoors in the winter.

"The colder temperatures reduce fire danger. A fire is less likely to get out of control," he said.

The last burning ban to be placed on the county was in 1995. It lasted about a week, Lillard said.

At that time the area was experiencing a comparable amount of fires as in 1998 but their drought was not as severe, he said.

"That translated into less time spent on each fire because it wasn't as dry," he said.

Lillard said he anticipates the drought to continue indefinitely. Hagerstown has received .43 inches of rain for December and 42.21 inches of precipitation for the year, according to Hagerstown Weather Observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

On Friday, Washington County received about 2/10 of an inch of snow, he said.

"The cold weather we're experiencing and the little bit of snow we've had isn't really getting us out of the drought," he said.

Lillard said generally about one foot of snow will yield an inch of rain.

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