Minnehaha County Commissioners have issued a burn ban for the county due to extremely dry conditions.
Commissioners passed the burn ban Tuesday morning—which prohibits any open burning in the county. The ban includes any open burning that isn't contained by a ring and a screen—which includes bon fires.
Lynn Deyoung, Minnehaha County Emergency Management Director, said if you have a burn barrel you can burn, but you have to have a metal screen on top of it to keep embers from escaping.
Deyong said if the embers escape and burn something you can be held responsible. He said the ordinance is to ensure people do not walk away and leave a fire unattended because the fire conditions are so extreme.
"The grass is so dry and the threat is so high any spark has the potential to start a significant fire," Deyoung said.
The burn ban may affect people in the more rural parts of Minnehaha County. However, Deyoung said cities like Dell Rapids and Brandon are considering banning fire pits due to extremely dry conditions.
Last week, the county sought input from fire departments in Minnehaha County about dry conditions and possible burning restrictions.
The burn ban is enforced by the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office.
"Open burning" is defined in MC34-04: "For purposes of this ordinance, open burning means the intentional burning of any substance, whether natural or manmade, or the intentional casting off of any burning substance, whether natural or manmade, except the burning of such substance in a container sufficient so as to prohibit the escape of any of the burning substance, or any sparks, flames or hot ashes from the container. The escape of any of such burning substance, or the escape of any sparks, flames or hot ashes from any such container shall be deemed prima facie evidence that the container was insufficient so as to meet the exception from the definition of an open burning set forth herein. The maintaining of a fire in any interior fireplace, stove or furnace is specifically excluded from the definition of an open burning as contemplated by this ordinance."
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