A spring outbreak of wild fires the last week or so has kept fire crews scrambling across eastern Iowa and the area is spreading. Delaware County is the latest to ban outdoor burning, and Manchester fire chief Jack Klaus says his firefighters had a big jump in calls the last two days. He hopes people would understand on their own how dry it is, but this busy time of year people are doing chores and don’t realize how dry conditions are. Weather forecasts, short- and long-range, will determine how long the burning ban is kept in effect in Delaware County. If we get rain that’s forecast for this weekend, the chief says the burn ban could be lifted in a few days, but forecasts haven’t produced the rain expected recently. State Patrol Sergeant Robert Hansen has an additional word of warning for Iowans whether they’re in one of the counties with burn bans or not. He advises them to reconsider any open burning, cigarettes or other fire danger, since all the state is dry right now. Hansen says as of this (Wednesday) afternoon, 19 counties have banned open burning. The sheriff of Madison County says he thinks someone’s making it worse by setting fires. Madison’s one of the counties that just declared burning bans today, and Sheriff Paul Welch says rural fire departments can barely keep up. He says it’s the biggest problem, noting there were three fires today in Madison county and a couple in neighboring Clark County. Welch says anybody who sees suspicious activity like a car stopped along a rural road for no apparent reason, or anyone leaving the scene of an open fire, is asked to call law enforcement authorities.
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