Parish says not so fast on lifting burn ban

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011

VIDALIA — A statewide burn ban is scheduled to end Thursday morning, but Concordia Parish residents won’t have the freedom to burn just yet.

State Fire Marshall H. “Butch” Browning said in a press release that the state-wide ban was going to be lifted, but each parish and municipal body has the right to continue the ban in their area if the conditions still aren’t right.

“Right now we are going to have to stay with the burn ban,” Concordia Parish Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington said. “We had some showers over the weekend, but as dry as it has been, that wasn’t enough for us to lift the ban.”

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Ferrington said that the parish received up to approximately 3 inches of rain in some areas over the weekend, and even though that would normally constitute enough rain to lift the ban, the parish only received rain in certain areas.

“Some areas didn’t get any rain at all, and some got a quarter inch here and there,” he said. “The ground was so dry that half inch of rain is already gone.”

Ferrington said some of the dryer areas are located around Ridgecrest and Clayton, and that the ban in the parish wouldn’t be lifted until all of Concordia saw a 1.5 to 2 inch rain.

“What good is it going to do to end the ban if one area is fine and another isn’t,” he said. “If we were to take people off the ban, there would definitely be an increase in fires.”

While the parish has been waiting on rain, Ferrington said the ban, which took effect June 1, has done its job of avoiding fires in the parish.

“I have not seen or heard of a big fire starting during this drought, and I know it is because of the ban,” he said. “Everyone has been cooperating with it, realizing that this drought is bad, and burning something isn’t going to help it.”

According to the press release from the state fire marshal’s office, before the ban the state was averaging 300 fires a month with 4,000 acres of damage. After the ban the numbers dropped to 150 fires a month with only 900 acres burned.

“These bans are there for a reason,” Ferrington said.

With a 30 percent chance of rain today and Friday and a 40 percent chance scheduled for the weekend, Ferrington said hopefully the weather will help end the ban sooner rather than later.