The Carter County Board of County Commissioners have declared a 14-day, county-wide burn ban pertaining to “extreme fire danger (that) exists in Carter County.”

Commissioner for District 1 Joe David McReynolds said Carter County Emergency Management Director Paul Tucker consulted every fire chief in the county, receiving approval for the suggested ban from all but one chief. Tucker discussed several criteria for land to merit a burn ban, and Carter County met all of the criteria, McReynolds said.

“It will help ease up our firemen from fighting all these fires with the drought,” McReynolds said.

The resolution states it is unlawful for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, range crop or other wildlands. Campfires, bonfires and burning trash or other material are also prohibited.

Exceptions to the burn ban include equipment construction projects that use propane or other controlled burners. The Board of Commissioners, however, caution residents to have a water pump on standby when such equipment is near a grassy right-of-way.

Welding, cutting, torching and grinding activities are also classified as an exception under certain conditions. 

The activities must be conducted over a non-combustible surface or at least 10 feet by 10 feet, and flammable vegetation must be covered by welding blankets or screens. Wind speeds must also be less than 20 m.p.h., and a fire watcher other than the welder must be posted at the torch site with pressurized water or a fire extinguisher.

Any person convicted of violating the burn ban will be charged with a misdemeanor and will be fined $500 and potential jail time up to one year.

Subsequent resolutions may be passed if extreme fire danger conditions persist, commissioners said.

“If we don’t get any rain, we probably will (extend it). We’ll look at it in two weeks,” McReynolds said. “Even if we get a small amount of rain, we need a pretty drastic rain to get it back to normal.”