Ag producers exempt from fire ban…with restrictions

Big Horn County approved an exemption to the partial fire ban that went into effect last month.

At Tuesday’s regular commissioner meeting, Chairman Jerry Ewen said an ag producer requested relief from the county partial ban.

County Warden Brent Godfrey said Washakie and Park counties have exempted agriculture and he would agree to an exemption under certain conditions. He said ag producers must call before a fire is lit to notify either the Big Horn County Sheriff’s dispatch in Basin or the Lovell dispatch center that they will be burning. Burning will only be allowed from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fires must be completely out by 4 p.m.

Godfrey said the ag producer or someone working for the producer must tend to the fire at all times while it is burning.

If a fire gets out of control and burns onto neighboring property the landowner burning could be liable for damages. He said fire districts may, and some likely will, bill the ag producer for suppression costs.

He said fires will not be allowed if winds are greater than 15 mph and the exemption can be removed by the commissioners at any time if fire conditions worsen.

Burlington Fire Board member Michael Scherman thanked the commissioners for the exemption, but noted that the worst fire danger is between noon and 4 p.m. so they could limit burning from 6 a.m. to noon if there are problems.

“In the area where I’m at it would be nice if there’s a grace period and then issue citations,” he said, adding that having a ban on burning without enforcement doesn’t work. People know they can disregard safety.

He also suggested minimum clearance requirement on structures whether there is a fire ban in effect or not.

Ewen said during times of extreme fire danger, low humidity, high temperatures and high winds, people shouldn’t be burning.