The fall season is here, which means bonfires and s’mores! However, due to a lack of rainfall throughout much of Indiana, many counties are abnormally dry. As dry conditions continue, having a bonfire can become a potential fire hazard if specific precautions are not taken.
The Indiana State Fire Marshal and Department of Homeland Security encourage Hoosiers living in a county with an active burn ban to adhere to the local laws governing the county. Several counties in southeastern Indiana are currently under a burn ban. To see a map of the counties currently under a burn ban, visit the IDHS website.
Even if a county isn’t under a burn ban, it is important to always practice proper outdoor fire safety. Before having a bonfire, Hoosiers should always remember to:
- Make sure a fire extinguisher or source of water is available to extinguish any fire quickly before it gets out of hand.
- Check the weather forecast. Weather fluctuations, such as sudden gusts of wind, could cause burning debris to spark a fire.
- Build the bonfire away from power lines, overhanging tree limbs, buildings, rotten stumps, shrubs, dry grass and leaves.
- Build the bonfire in an area that has gravel or dirt at least 10 feet in all directions.
- Keep all flammable objects at least 15 feet away from and upwind of the burn site.
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) also encourages Hoosier farmers to take precautions. During harvest season, dry conditions, coupled with hot farm equipment, pose an added risk for farm-related fires.
ISDA Director Bruce Kettler urges farmers not to cut corners on their safety inspections and to take extra precaution in the coming months.
“Farm vehicles get hot and dusty during harvest season,” Kettler said. “Knowing that, it’s important to keep this equipment clean from dust and debris, and to inspect fuel lines and electrical systems regularly. These are important steps farmers can take to ensure their safety and the safety of others.”