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Area firefighters stretched thin – burn ban put in place

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Inside the Maysville Iowa firehouse there's a rare sight, an unwashed firetruck. It's dirty because firefighters here have literally been too busy fighting fires to clean it up.

"We haven't had time. We got two trucks washed last night and maybe a couple more tonight, see if we can get them all cleaned up before the next call. How often does that happen that you don't get the trucks cleaned up? This is about the first time we haven't got 'em all cleaned up the same day," says Scott Roenfeldt.

In the last two weeks there's been an extreme number of grass and field fires around our area says Roenfeldt. That's why he and his fellow fire chiefs from all over Scott County have successfully lobbied the Iowa state fire marshal for a rare county-wide ban on open burning.

"As long as I've been fire chief which has been almost 14 years we've only had one other burn ban, and that was like an August when we didn't have any rain for many many weeks. But this is the first time we've had a burn ban in the spring as long as I've been fire chief," he adds.

This winter's lack of snow combined with the recent warm, breezy weather makes our area a prime target for grass and field fires. It's not unusual for grass or field fires to break out in terrain that's rough or inaccessible. Firefighters say this makes their tough job even tougher. Given our dry conditions firefighters say a ban on open burning is the best way to keep people safe and the number of fires down.

"We don't want anybody hurt or someone to get killed because someone was burning leaves and it caught a whole field on fire and that caught there house on fire and unknown to them their house is on fire and they're on the inside."

The ban on open burning applies to burning yard waste - things like limbs or leaves, or burning ditches in rural areas. You can still bar-b-que, and have recreational fires inside fire pits. Anyone caught breaking the ban will result in a misdemeanor fire being issued.