FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne and Allen County officials have declared a state of emergency and issued a burn ban for the next seven days.
Burning of any sort, including recreational campfires and fire pits, will not be allowed.
Officials from Fort Wayne, New Haven, Huntertown, the Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Safety and the Allen County Fire Chiefs Association are all in agreement on the emergency ban, Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said Friday.
With the county in the midst of a moderate drought with no rain in the forecast, residents are urged to use extreme caution with any type of flammable product, Peters said.
While the open burning of trash, leaves or yard and construction waste is already prohibited year-round within the county and city, the countywide ban also includes camp fires, bonfires, unpermitted controlled burns, burning of organic debris and discarding of unextinguished smoking materials of any kind on the ground or not within an enclosed fireproof receptacle.
Commercial burning of material other than for religious or ceremonial purposes is also prohibited, officials said.
Cooking on barbecue grills is allowed as long as the total fuel area does not exceed 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height.
Allen County included fireworks in its burning ban, and Fort Wayne will monitor and strictly enforce its code, which limits fireworks to these dates and times: June 29 to July 3, and July 5 to July 9, from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset; and July 4 from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Although Fort Wayne usually issues permits for camp fires for Scouting and family outings and bonfires for school pep rallies, no permits will be issued during the burn ban, Peters said.
Anyone who violates the ban could be cited and fined or subject to criminal charges should a fire result in personal or property damage.
County and city officials will review the ban and weather conditions each week and decide whether an extension is needed, Peters said.
Other counties in northeast Indiana that have issued burn bans are Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and Wabash. As of Friday afternoon, 17 counties in Indiana had reported burn bans. The city of Garrett also issued a burn ban.
As Independence Day approaches and warm, dry conditions linger in many parts of the state, the Indiana State Fire Marshals Office is urging Hoosiers to exercise extreme care and caution when discharging fireworks.
In a typical year, there are more fires on July 4 than on any other day of the year, State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said. With extremely dry conditions pervasive across the state this year, anyone enjoying consumer fireworks needs to do so with a heightened level of caution. As evidenced by the numerous reports of grass and brush fires we have received already, grass and other vegetation in many areas are readily combustible.
The State Fire Marshals Office is a division of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
For fireworks safety tips, a statewide burn ban status map or information about dry weather safety, go to GetPrepared.in.gov.