David Turner, fire chief for Saline County Rural Fire District #5, says he has sent in a recommendation to Saline County Emergency Management for a burn ban. Turner’s recommendation comes after his district responded to five fire calls Saturday.
“Saturday was the busiest day we have had in at least a few years,” Turner said. “I can’t remember a time when we ran five calls in a day.”
Hannah Stambaugh, Saline County Emergency Management director, said that she has received similar recommendations from all of the local fire districts and will be requesting a burn ban at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.
“We try to avoid doing a burn ban because it is basically a disaster declaration,” Stambaugh said. “We have just found that conditions are too bad to allow controlled burns… We had eight fires Saturday that all started as controlled burns.”
According to Stambaugh, this will be the first burn ban since March of 2014.
RFD #5 started their day with a structure fire in Solomon. They then responded to several rural grass fires. Saline County Fire District #2 also worked a structure fire Saturday. The fire was reported around 2:50 p.m. on the 4000 block of S Simpson. Saline County Sheriff Roger Soldan said the fire started as a controlled burn. It then spread to a cedar tree that threw embers on the roof of a house.
The fire damaged the north and south sides of the roof before crews were able to get it under control. Sheriff Soldan said the total damage is not estimated as the structure is unsafe to enter.
Rural Fire District #3 responded to a grass fire just before 7 a.m. Saturday. A passerby called in the fire at 3620 Crest Lane. Fire crews believe a compost pile combusted, spreading to a yard and igniting a fence. The fire was quickly doused. The loss to the fence was estimated at $100.
A Saline County man was cited for Burning without a permit after his controlled burn spread to a neighbor’s yard. RFD #5 responded to the call at 320 S Brenda just before 3:20 p.m. Saturday. The resident was attempting to clear a garden when the fire got out of hand, spreading to a neighbor’s yard and trees. Authorities say the fire did not pose a danger to any homes.
Forecasts show a 60 percent chance of precipitation for Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service. But Stambaugh says a burn ban must be active for at least seven days, regardless of weather conditions.