EASTON — Fire officials across Maryland have recently voiced concern with how the lack of rain created very dry conditions, leading to a greater risk for brush fires.
Talbot County, along with Dorchester and Somerset counties, have approved temporary burn ban to reduce the risk of brush fires. Caroline County Department of Emergency Services also sent out an advisory asking residents not to do outside burnings until further notice.
“Continued drought conditions have created favorable conditions for fire-spread,” according to Caroline County Emergency Services. “This means that agricultural or recreational burning can spread extremely quickly. Dry brush, grass, and other ground coverings allow a fire to spread, placing homes and structures in danger. We are cautioning all residents to avoid burning until further notice. This includes agricultural and recreational fires.”
In a 4-0 vote, with Pete Lesher absent, Talbot County Council members has enacted a temporary burn ban throughout Talbot County due to the moderate drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation by Administrative Resolution.
“We are here for a special and important reason due to the drought that we have in the country and across the whole entire region,” Talbot County Council President Corey Pack said.
The Talbot burn ban went into effect Friday, Oct. 4, and will remain in effect until Nov. 18, or until the Council terminates the ban by a separate resolution. During this time frame, open-air burning is prohibited due to the high risk of a controlled burn rapidly getting out of control.
The Dorchester burn ban also went into effect Friday, Oct. 4. The Dorchester County Council unanimously approved the burn ban resolution on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
Much of the Eastern Shore is currently listed as being in a “Moderate Drought” condition by the National Integrated Drought Information System.
On Monday, Sept. 2, many parts on the Mid-Shore received about 0.60 of rain. But since Labor Day, little or no measurable rain has fallen on the Mid-Shore.
“I was contacted by our fire chiefs and asked if we could go forward with the provisions on declaring a burn ban because of prolonged conditions that have existed and need to be conducive in the early start of the fire,” Talbot County Department of Emergency Services Director Clay Stamp said.
Stamp said this ban is necessary because there were “fires started in recent days because of the dry conditions. On behalf of the burn ban committee, which is outlined in our Talbot County Code, there is a request of council’s consideration to pass resolution to put on the burn ban for a minimum of 45 days so we can monitor the situation.”
During the meeting, Pack asked to emphasize on what this ban, and if it extends to grills and open fire pits.
“The concept is burning in the open, so if you have an open fire pit, you are not allowed to use that,” Talbot County Assistant County Attorney Mary O’Donnell said. “If you have a closed chiminea with a sack or a chimney, I think that would be allowed under the drafting of the resolution.”
Easton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chief Sonny Jones said the burn ban was created for the safety of the community.
“It is so dry right now that the need to protect the public from the very vast spread of fire from something as simple as a control burning, far outweighs the public’s need to use fire at this point” Jones said.
Jones also recommended to call the Department of Emergency Services and ask to make sure the conditions are safe at 410-770-8160.
The forecast could bring some relief with rain predicted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but the amount of rain likely will not resolve the dry conditions.
The National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J., said a much more powerful storm system would be needed to give the Eastern Shore the rain soaking it needs to resolve the dry conditions.