Burn ban instituted in Allamakee County remains in place despite weekend rain

One of many open burning bans ... Allamakee County joined 10 other northeast Iowa counties, and 18 Iowa counties total, in recently putting a ban on open burning in place, doing so with a request made to the State of Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office that followed with a proclamation Tuesday, September 12. Nearly all of the counties pictured above also remain in the Extreme Drought category determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Delaware County (with the blue circle pictured above) lifted its open burning ban Wednesday, September 13 after initially putting it in place as early as September 5.

Allamakee County became the 18th county in the state of Iowa, and the 11th county in northeast Iowa, to institute a ban on open burning as Extreme Drought conditions continue to grip many of those same counties, especially in the northeast Iowa region. That ban became effective as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 12 after all six fire chiefs in Allamakee County agreed the ban was necessary and Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker submitted the burn ban request to the State of Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office, which issued the proclamation putting the burn ban into effect.

“Given the extreme dry conditions, lack of future heavy moisture, and with the county being in extreme drought conditions, it was felt this was prudent,” Snitker explained in his email announcing the burn ban.

The proclamation issued and signed by State of Iowa Fire Marshal Dan Wood putting the open burning ban into effect states, in part: “Upon investigation, the Fire Marshal finds that conditions in Allamakee County are such that open burning constitutes a danger to life or property. It is therefore ordered that no person shall engage in open burning in Allamakee County, effective September 12, 2023 at 6:00 p.m., except as specifically permitted by Iowa Code 100.40(3), until such time as Corey Snitker, EMA, representing each fire department having all or part of their fire district within Allamakee County, notifies the State Fire Marshal that such conditions dangerous to life or property no longer exist.”

The proclamation goes on to state that any violation of the proclamation order will be charged as a simple misdemeanor. Many of the northeast Iowa burn bans have been in place since as early as September 5, with Delaware County recently lifting its burn ban as of Wednesday, September 13.
State of Iowa Code 100.40(3) does outline the exceptions allowed during an open burning ban period, as follows:

“A proclamation issued by the State Fire Marshal pursuant to this section shall not prohibit a supervised, controlled burn for which a permit has been issued by the fire chief of the fire district where the burn will take place, the use of outdoor fireplaces, barbecue grills, properly supervised landfills, or the burning of trash in incinerators or trash burners made of metal, concrete, masonry, or heavy one-inch wire mesh, with no openings greater than one square inch.”

Those acting upon those exceptions, however, are reminded that even though the flames of the fire may be contained within the allowable receptacle listed in the Iowa Code, there is still the possibility of hot embers or sparks becoming airborne and landing in an area that could easily catch fire, especially in the Extreme Drought condition that Allamakee County is still categorized under by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Despite the brief rain that fell in the Allamakee County area Saturday, September 16, local fire officials say the ban still remains necessary, as overall dry conditions still remain prominent. Reported rainfall totals from those Saturday showers in Allamakee County ranged from less than one-tenth (0.1) of an inch to not quite an inch, with some of the county not getting any rainfall at all out of that brief system.