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Franklin County adopts ban on all outdoor burning

August 16, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Soaring temperatures coupled with a lack of rain has turned Franklin County's fields and woods into tinder and prompted the County Commissioners to order a ban on all outside burning.

The ban goes into effect at 3 p.m. Saturday, County Commissioner Bob Thomas said Thursday. It affects all 22 townships and boroughs in the county.

"This means there will be no open burning, period," Thomas said.

Violation of the ban can bring a $100 fine for a first offense.

The ban comes as a relief to area firefighters, Waynesboro Fire Chief Dale Fishack said. He said volunteers in his department alone have responded to brush and woods fires every day for the last two weeks, locally or for mutual aid in Franklin and Adams counties and Frederick County, Md.

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Michael Kusko, district forester at Michaux State Forest, told the commissioners Thursday there have been eight mountain fires in the forest in the last two weeks, Thomas said.

The last time a countywide burn ban was in effect was in the spring, Thomas said.

Thomas encouraged smokers to think twice before throwing lighted cigarette butts from their vehicle windows.

"Some of these fires have been started by careless smokers," he said.

The ban not only helps protect the forests, it also will protect the county's dwindling water supplies, Thomas said.

Fishack said he, too, is concerned about using water to fight unnecessary brush fires.

"A tank truck holds 1,500 gallons and it takes six or seven trips for a normal fire. It adds up," he said.

Fishack said fighting forest fires is stressful on firefighters because of the rough terrain where they usually occur. The hot weather also takes its toll, he said.

A large fire on Biesecker Gap Road earlier this week kept his crews working through the night, Fishack said.

Waynesboro weather observer Todd Toth said there were 20 days of 90-plus degree temperatures in July and 11 so far in August.

Precipitation in July was 2.16 inches. In August, 2.10 inches have fallen. Normal rainfall in the area is 3.4 inches in July and 3.5 in August, Toth said.

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