While parts of Iowa got a good drenching overnight, the western third of the state saw very little rainfall, if any. Jason Wickizer, the emergency medical services coordinator for Shelby County, says their fire danger will remain in the “high” category through Monday, based on input from local fire chiefs and other experts.
Wickizer says the county is experiencing high temperatures, low humidity during the afternoons and it has abundant natural fuel — in the form of dry grass and crops — due to the low rainfall. He says even though some rain is in the forecast this weekend, that doesn’t mean the fire threat will be reduced prior to Monday.
Signs indicating the increased fire threat are scattered around the region, including at fire stations within the county and on the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency’s website. While a few dozen Iowa counties have enacted bans on open burning in recent weeks, Wickizer says he’d rather not go that route for Shelby County, at least not yet.
Since they have not seen an increase in fires, he says they will continue to use the warning signs instead of asking the State Fire Marshal’s Office for an open burning ban. He says the purpose of the “Fire Danger” signs is to cut down on instances where people intentionally start fires on their property and have several fire trucks show up when it’s not an emergency.
By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic