Commissioners Discuss Fire Ban

Staffon Warn, Rural Fire Chief, and Jim Faull, Sheriff and Fire Marshall for Prowers County, discussed the recent fires in Bent and Baca Counties and the Prowers County fire ban enacted last month.

Sheriff Faull said the Red Flag warnings posted by the National Weather Service usually serve to curtail non-permit burns in the county.  “Farmers are pretty smart about this kind of action,” he told the commissioners, but stated that in light of the current fires and drought, he will inform the local dispatch authorities that he will make decisions regarding future burn permits when they are called by area farmers.  He felt that we don’t need a total ban, but can assess the situation week  by week. “So far, two people this season have been cited for not having a burn permit,” he added, and told the commissioners the act can be construed as a criminal offense, depending on the results of the fire.

Commissioner Gene Millbrand asked if Faull thought persons could be held liable if, for example, they started a burn which destroyed the tamarisk growth that has been sprayed east of Lamar along the Arkansas River between Granada and Holly.  “We spent almost $250,000 spraying those plants two years ago, and a fire, with one year left before the plants are completely dead, would bring them back to life again,” he said.  Sheriff Faull believed that kind of act could be held liable as it would show intent or disregard of public or private property.

Staffon Warn said the emergency tanks on rangeland in Prowers County are full and are checked regularly when asked their status by Commissioner Joe Marble.  Several years ago, the tanks were reassessed on their readiness, including having fittings that would be adaptable to various kinds of pumping equipment.  Most of the tanks have a 5,000 gallon capacity.  Warn said the May Valley Water Association also has tanks, but the May Valley Board would have to be approached for consideration to have their tanks equipped with adapters.  Warn also said Bristol, Granada, Wiley and Holly all respond to an automatic aid call for grassfires in their communities, using one brush fire truck to respond.

In view of the Bent County fire, Warn stated he’d like to see a 100 foot barrier cleared in Prowers County, from John Martin Reservoir back into the city along the river bank.  He said it require landowners to pitch in to help n the project, but would make a great difference to have that potential burn fuel cleaned out.  Almost ten years ago, a fast moving fire along the Arkansas River and railroad tracks was fought to a standstill right up to the greenbelt and along North 14th Street.  Several commercial and abandoned buildings were destroyed in that fire.

Prowers County Sheriff’s Office
April 14, 2011

The Prowers County Commissioners, the Sheriff’s Office and County Rural Fire Department wish to express our gratitude to the citizens of Prowers County for their diligent efforts to control fires in our County.  With the fire danger extremely high we have had relatively few fires and none that we were not able to quickly control. The vast majority of the fires were accidently started by such things as electrical poles that were blown over causing sparks.  Those in the agricultural business have been very good about calling in when they are going to burn off ditches and have refrained from doing so during high winds.

We discussed having a total fire ban for the County but have opted to only ban fires only during “Red Flag” alerts.  With dry and very windy conditions the fire danger is still very high.  Today we are getting some moisture but conditions for fire are going to continue to be high for quite some time and we are asking people to remain cautious until conditions change for the better.

Thank you for you assistance.


Filed Under: AgricultureCountyLaw EnforcementPublic SafetyWeather


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