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Franklin County imposes burn ban

March 06, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

By STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Responding to requests from district forester and fire chiefs across the county, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday ordered a 30-day burn ban for Franklin County.

The total ban on open burning goes into effect at 3 p.m. Thursday and affects all townships and boroughs.

Drought conditions prompted four townships in the county to issue their own burn bans in the last month.

"Our concern is wasting water on careless mountain or brush fires, wasting water that is really a concern here," said Dennis Monn, Emergency Management coordinator.

Monn said the .93 inch of rain that fell in Chambersburg over the weekend was only "a drop in the bucket."

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The ban prohibits outdoor burning of garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, paper, vegetative matter involved with land clearing or any other sort of debris in either a barrel or fire ring on the ground.

Monn said he will contact the fire chiefs who requested the ban in about three weeks to see if they want to extend it for an additional 30 days.

By state law, the ban can remain in effect for only 30 days and can be extended once.

While the countywide ban is in place, county restrictions and fines take precedence over any township ban, Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

Pennsylvania State Police and all municipal police officers can enforce the ban, which carries a fine of $100 for first-time offenders.

Violators of the ban face a $200 fine for the second offense and $300 fine for the third and subsequent offenses.

This is the second time in less than five months the commissioners have ordered a burning ban.

The commissioners on Oct. 30 banned open burning for 30 days following a series of brush and mountain fires that were the result of the fall's warm and dry weather.

Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker declared a drought emergency for 24 counties, including Franklin and Fulton.

Residents have been asked to reduce their daily water consumption by 15 percent.

Nonessential water use restrictions prohibit operating ornamental water fountains, watering lawns, washing cars or serving water in restaurants unless requested by customers, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

A Drought Management Task Force has been created in the county and it has already met once to begin assessing the situation.

Monn, who co-chairs the task force, said five well drillers in the area report an eight-week wait for residents whose wells have run dry. The businesses are not drilling wells for new developments because of the backlog, he said.

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