No burn ban yet for Monroe County, but EM director says: “Make good decisions when you’re burning things.”

At Wednesday’s meeting of Monroe County commissioners, county director of emergency management Allison Moore told them no outdoor burn ban was yet recommended for the county, despite persistent dry conditions.

She still asked the public to exercise caution: “We do challenge you to make good decisions when you’re burning things.” Making good decisions includes making sure you have a good preparedness plan in place, she added.

Moore said that she had been busy with other officials contemplating the same kind of burn ban that 14 other counties across south central Indiana had implemented over the last few weeks.

In this latest dry phase, the first county to declare a burn ban was Martin County, southwest of Monroe County, on Sept. 10.

Owen County, northwest of Monroe County, had earlier declared a ban, but lifted it on Oct. 1.

The quarter inch (0.24) of rain recorded at the weather station on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington during the month of September made it the third-driest September for the period of record dating back to 1895.

The driest September on record was last year, and that dry spell also prompted some surrounding counties to implement burn bans.

Burn ban map for Indiana on Oct. 2, 2020.

The University of Nebraska’s US Drought Monitor map for Sept. 29 shows abnormally dry conditions for much of the state of Indiana and moderate drought for the east central part of the state, where almost a dozen counties have declared a burn ban.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Moore didn’t rule out the possibility that Monroe County could still implement a ban. For now, the morning dew, the rain that fell on Monday, and the potential rain forecast for the weekend means that no ban is recommended, Moore said.

Moore’s consultations on burn bans include the state’s forestry department and the Monroe County Fire Chief’s Association, which includes Bloomington’s fire chief. The chiefs can decide to make a recommendation for a ban on outdoor burning, which would go to the emergency manager, who would then notify the commissioners, who could then enact a ban.

Moore told commissioners that once the leaves begin to fall, “There is a high probability that we may have to come back to the commissioners and implement an ordinance for our burn ban.”

Two decades of Drought Monitor maps