This week’s high temperatures and dry conditions have prompted several parishes to issue burn bans with one of them being St. Landry Parish.
Fire Chief, Ray Mendenhall, says simply using your barbecue pit this summer could start a fire if you’re not careful. “As dry as the grass is, if they have a barrel pit or a barbecue pit that might have holes in the bottom of it, coals could fall out and might catch grass on fire.”
The burn mans no burning of any debris or trash until the ban is lifted. Mendenhall says brush fires spread very quickly under these dry conditions.
So far this month, firefighters have had to put out 18 grass fires.
“We are seeing a lot of acreage burned right now due to outside burning of rubbish and trash. If somebody sees someone burning during a burn ban we ask that they call in so that we can go out and let them know that we are under a burn ban and we can put the fire out while it’s relatively small versus getting out of control,” says Mendenhall.
Mendenhall says they do have a fire truck that specifically helps to put out brush fires faster. It gives firefighters easier access to the fire.
St. Landry Parish President, Bill Fontenot, put the ban in place. Fontenot says with the rising temperatures, he felt this was necessary for public safety. “It’s something we’ve been through before here in the past and in August and fall condition. Our citizens are aware, but unless you put out a burn ban sometimes it can help raise the awareness that we should not be burning at this time.”
The fire department has also enforced “Operation Cool Down”. Mendenhall says this was created to protect his firefighters from the heat. “We make sure the guys are hydrated. We have water, Gatorade and we have two misting fans. We have a hazmat trailer that we also use for a cool down trailer.”
Mendenhall says the burn ban will be in effect until further notice.
Other areas that have issued burn bans are Evangeline, Quachita, Rapides and a few other northern parishes.