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2 more area counties enact burn bans

Commissioners in Tillman and Cotton counties approved the enactment of outdoor burn bans during their business sessions Monday in response to extreme fire danger resulting from dry conditions due to recent inadequate rainfall.

Tillman County's ban took effect Monday and will continue for the next two weeks, makes it unlawful to set outdoor fires to any forest, grass range crop or other wild lands. It also prohibits the building of camp fires, bonfires; and burning of trash, pits, debris or other material that may result in a fire. Fireworks discharges are also prohibited as part of the ban.

Exceptions to the burn ban include activities such as welding, cutting torch or grinding, but only under certain conditions. Those include: wind speeds of under 15 miles-per-hour, conducting such activities over a non-combustible surface of at least 10 feet by 10 feet and when welding blankets or screens used to cover flammable vegetation; a fire watch, other than the welder, is posted at the welding/cutting torch side with pressurized water or fire extinguisher, and an adequate water source to extinguish a fire or portable fire extinguisher are present.

 "We haven't had any measurable rain since October," said Randy Hasley, Tillman County emergency management director. "The warm weather we had in fall and early winter and the winds we've had recently have created very dry conditions."

Hasley said the county's fire departments have responded to only a few small outdoor fires, mostly cotton and cotton module fires as the harvesting season wraps up.

"It's really getting critical and we need some rain," he said. "Our people here realize how dry it is, so they're being a little more careful.

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