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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Monday, July 16, 2012

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office


Des Moines, IOWA --- The State Fire Marshal warns Iowans the heat wave experienced the past two weeks is creating “tinder box” conditions throughout the state.  The State Fire Marshal Division has been in daily communication with concerned Fire Chiefs as nearly one-third of the state remains under a burn ban. 

State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds says, “We expect some burn bans during the spring and fall of every year.  It is significant when one-third of the state is in a burn ban in July. I can’t recall a time since the 1980’s when we have seen this level of extreme dryness.  Our state can ill-afford a major fire disaster that could have been prevented with a little help from the public.” 

Iowans are reminded to use extreme caution when their activities involve fire.  A burn ban authorized under Iowa Code 100.40 prohibits open burning during extreme emergency conditions.  Crop and vegetation remain dry even with spotty showers that traveled across the state.  Parts of eastern Iowa are so dry that small fires could spread dangerously fast over several acres.

To assure the safety of all Iowans, the State Fire Marshal asks Iowans to avoid these common risky fire behaviors responsible for causing many of Iowa’s fires:

1) Do not litter and throw lit cigarettes from moving vehicles as grass fires ignite easily in dry conditions.
2) Avoid the use of sky lanterns and other fireworks celebration items involving sparks or flames.  
3) Burning of yard waste or piled tree debris is responsible for causing a majority of wild land fires for Iowa fire departments.

The only fires allowed during a burn ban are those controlled burns for which a Fire Chief has issued a permit and proper supervision is planned.  Small recreational camp fires are permitted if conducted in a fire place of adequate construction like bricks, metal, or screen mesh.  Any camp fire not in an outdoor fire place is prohibited. 

Violation of a burn ban can subject a person to citation or arrest for reckless use of fire or disobeying a burn ban.  Considering the drought conditions, Fire Chiefs have very little tolerance for reckless fires across our dry Iowa landscape. 

For more information on burn bans and the law contact the State Fire Marshal Office at 515-725-6145 or go to www.dps.state.ia.us  The State Fire Marshal web page also contains an interactive map listing active Burn Bans across the state.



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