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Burn ban lifted early in Franklin County

April 28, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Twenty-one days after it was imposed, the 30-day countywide ban on open burning was rescinded Thursday by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.

"We believe the recent rains and the greening of the underbrush has negated the need for the ban," Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said. The ban, which went into effect April 6, was lifted immediately, he said.

"We had received inquiries from scouting groups" and a private campground about lifting the ban, Elliott said.

"Last week, we had quite a few cancellations because we can't have campfires. People say, 'What's the point of camping if you can't have a campfire?'" said Florence Mackey of the Twin Bridge Meadow Family Campground in Chambersburg.

The lifting of the ban comes in time for this weekend's Cumberland Valley Steam & Gas Show, one of the campground's bigger annual events, Mackey said.

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Originally, the commissioners believed the ban had to be in effect for 30 days, but determined after consulting with the county's attorney that it could be rescinded, Elliott said.

At the time the ban was imposed, the county had just gone through a March during which just .77 inches of precipitation fell, compared to the normal 3.8 inches. The National Weather Service said it was the driest March in the Harrisburg, Pa., area since 1910.

The dry weather resulted in 71 brush fires, 13 mountain fires and 37 outside investigations for possible fires during the month. Since the ban, the number of reports of brush fires or outside burning has been minimal, County Emergency Services Communication Coordinator Bryan Stevenson said.

"Pretty much everybody abided by it," Stevenson said.

In April, the average rainfall for Waynesboro, Pa., is 3.5 inches. With a few days left, rainfall has amounted to 3.72 inches, according to local weather observer Todd Toth.

"We would urge all residents to use common sense before they burn, and contact their local municipality," Elliott said. While the county lifted its burn ban, he said municipalities may choose to keep local bans in effect.

Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher said the ban there was being lifted immediately "to be consistent with the county commissioners." Antrim Township Administrator Ben Thomas Jr. said the local ban there also is being lifted.

"We're still asking people to be cautious with any open burning," Thomas said. People are used to burning in the township and his office had received a lot of calls about the ban since it went into effect, Thomas said.

Greene Township also issued an announcement that burning permitted by ordinance will be allowed. That includes burning for recreational fires, farming operations and clearing and grubbing.

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