Pontotoc County officials enacted a 14-day burn ban effective Monday, April 4.
Pontotoc County Emergency Management Director Chad Letellier said the ban could be extended or shortened depending on the amount of rain the area receives in the coming weeks.
“We’re in a severe drought,” Letellier said. “No rain is expected in the next week basically. We have been having a large amount of controlled burns getting away from people.”
He said there were six grass fires Monday which kept county firefighters busy throughout the day.
Ada has only received about two-and-a-half inches of precipitation in 2011 compared to about seven inches at this time last year.
Letellier said there is no end in sight for the drought. Weather experts are forecasting a 20 percent chance of rain for Saturday, but officials aren't holding their breath.
A resolution signed by the Pontotoc County Board of Commissioners said during the burn ban, “it is unlawful for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, range, crop, or other wild lands, or to build a campfire or bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, range, crop or other wildland fire.”
The resolution also said anyone convicted of violating the ban could be fined up to $500 and imprisoned for one year. Letellier said anyone who starts a fire could be held liable for any damage or injury or death resulting from the fire.
Exceptions to the rule are outdoor grilling when conducted over a noncombustible surface such as concrete.
Additionally, welding operations must be conducted in an area away from combustible material for a distance of no less than 20 feet, or burn blankets must be used.
Spotters must be used when welding and on-site firefighting capability in the form of pressurized water must be available.