Tuesday, July 17 2012 9:24 AM EDT2012-07-17 13:24:59 GMT
Burn Bans Counties: Cheatham Davidson Dickson Gibson Giles Marshall Maury Robertson Simpson County, Ky. Smith Sumner Trigg County, Ky. Wilson Cities: Brentwood Clarksville Dickson Dyersburg Hopkinsville,more>>
Complete list of cities, counties with burn, fireworks bansmore>>
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The State Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson has issued a burn ban for seven mid-state counties due to the extremely dry conditions.
The counties include Cheatham, Dickson, Gibson, Giles, Marshall, Maury and Sumner. It is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.
The ban applies to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity outside of municipalities where local ordinances apply.
State law allows the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain conditions.
"With the extremely dry conditions and little prospect for rain anytime soon, we want to encourage the public to use good judgment and to avoid situations that can cause fire, even in areas not covered under a burn ban," Johnson said in a statement.
The burn ban does not prohibit the use of fireworks.
Violating the burn ban is considered reckless burning and is punishable by a $2,500 fine and/or 11 months, 29 days in jail.
State and local firefighters have seen an increase in fires statewide. Causes can ranged from field equipment and vehicles, escaped debris burns, discarded cigarettes, lightening, campfires, arson and fireworks.
Other counties that have issued burn bans include Robertson, Smith, and Wilson. Cities that have issued their own burn bans include Brentwood, Clarksville, Dickson, Dyersburg, Murfreesboro, Portland, and Spring Hill.
Brentwood, Clarksville, Dickson, and La Vergne, along with Cheatham and Sumner Counties, have also issued bans on fireworks as well.
In Kentucky, Hopkinsville has a burn on open fires and fireworks.
Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department Fire Marshal Ken Honeycutt issued the ban on Monday afternoon. The public will be notified when the ban is lifted.
Smyrna Fire officials said the ban includes outdoor open burning, such as residential open burning for disposing of yard debris. No permits will be issued until the ban is lifted. Recreational fires for campfires or similar purposes do not require a permit.
The Nashville Fire Marshal has also advised residents that even small personal use fires such as grills should be closely monitored and avoided if possible, because they can ignite the dry grass and quickly spread out of control.
Officials in Clarksville have also advised of caution for residents who might choose to use fireworks. They said they lack of rainfall has created additional safety concerns.
"I am very concerned about the potential for brush fires, which can become bigger fires to deal with, because of the weather we're experiencing," said Clarksville Fire Chief Michael Roberts. "A spark from a firework can cause significant damages in these kinds of conditions. I am asking that if you are planning to shoot fireworks during the allowed times, please use extreme caution."
R.L. Douglas with Robertson County Emergency Management said they have had three or four grass fires. Emergency managers are asking anyone using fireworks to use extreme caution and they recommend parent supervision.
La Vergne officials said the ban includes all open burning and recreational fires in the city. Police may issue citations to people in violation of the burning ban.
Wilson County said their ban includes camp fires, burning of trash, and outdoor debris, until further notice. During the month of June, some 40 grass and brush fires have been reported, ranging in size from 70 acres to a few feet. Two buildings were destroyed, including a barn on Tuesday morning.
The City of Portland Mayor and Fire Chief said anyone within the city who chooses to burn or discharge fireworks outdoors during the ban may be held responsible if it is determined that their actions contributed to a fire or other damage.
In Sumner County, they said only fireworks displays conducted by professional pyrotechnics companies will be allowed in conjunction with July 4th holiday celebrations.