Statewide burn ban in effect for first time since 2013

Statewide burn ban in effect for first time since 2013
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The entire state of Louisiana is under a burn ban that went into effect Friday morning.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said just this week a grass fire in North Louisiana spread, setting about 10 building on fire. That is why, for the first time since 2013, all of Louisiana is under a burn ban.

"So the burn ban went into effect this (Friday) morning at 6 a.m. What it means is no outdoor burning on your property. Now outside, a BBQ pit that's covered that has a spark erection to it, those would be allowed, but certainly an open barrel where you have trash, vegetation, limbs, trees or whatever burning, that would not be allowed," said Browning.

Browning said because the ground is so dry, even a tossed cigarette butt is sparking a fire.

"It's been about four weeks since many of us have seen any kind of rainfall so we've been unusually dry. Then you throw in the warmth of the last several days, very low humidity, and those are the conditions that set up for the potential for wildfires," said WAFB Chief Meteorologist Jay Grymes.

That means, if you plan to get in your yard this weekend, pick up a rake and add on to your burn pile, hold off setting it on your fire because officials said the wind right now will help even a spark spread.

If you're caught burning anything, it is a fine.

"Fire marshal deputies can come out and write you a civil fine of $250 per occurrence if you burn," said Browning.

If a fire you started spreads to another lot or even a building, that's a misdemeanor criminal offense.

While driving around, if you happen to see burning sugarcane residue or a farmer setting a fire, Browning said those burns are regulated by the federal government and the burn ban does not apply to those farmers.

"Those people are licensed to burn and they burn under certain conditions and have to have equipment to control their farming," said Browning.

So when can we expect any rain and a possible end to this ban?

"We're probably going to go another five or seven days without any rain, and even then, that may not be enough to end the burn ban so look for the burn ban to extend at least through next week, and it could go well beyond that depending on how much rain we get towards the end of next week," said Grymes.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.