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Iowa Fire Marshal calls dry conditions “dire”

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The state fire marshal is warning Iowans of “tinder box” conditions across the state.

About one-third of all Iowa counties banned open burning as of Monday, July 16, 2012. 

Burn bans are expected each year, but heat and lacking rainfall combined to make conditions this year are more extreme.

“I can’t recall a time since the 1980s when we have seen this level of extreme dryness,” said State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds.  “Our state can ill-afford a major fire disaster that could have been prevented with a little help from the public.”

Even occasional rain will not improve the dry conditions. 

Reynolds asks people in Iowa to avoid throwing lit cigarettes from moving vehicles since grass fires ignite easily in dry conditions.  He also asks people to avoid using fireworks and to avoid burning yard wasted and debris. 

Small recreational camp fires are permitted if they are constructed in an adequate enclosure made of items such as bricks, metal or screen mesh.  Camp fires not in an outdoor fire place are prohibited. 

Violating a burn ban can result in a citation or arrest.  Reynolds warns that fire chiefs have “very little tolerance for reckless fires” in the dry Iowa conditions.

View a map of counties under a burn ban at this link: