AMES, Iowa — Iowa communities and counties have initiated burning restrictions or bans in the past few weeks. Little snow accumulation during a mild winter followed by dry, windy and unseasonably warm spring temperatures have created dangerous conditions for field and ditch burning this spring.
Key factors in conducting a safe burn include monitoring wind direction and wind speed, temperature, and relative humidity. Jesse Randall, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach forester, outlines controlling an open burn and when it’s not advisable to burn.
When weather conditions are advisable for open burning, taking safety precautions will help ensure flames and smoke stay where they should.
“A fire stop should be created around the entire perimeter of the area where open burning is to be conducted,” said Randall. Fire stops can be created by maintaining a mowed green area of 20 feet wide around the perimeter of the area to be burned or disking a 20 feet wide strip around the perimeter of the burn area.
“This time of year it is even more important to consider smoke management, as that is more of a risk than escaped fires in the spring when there are no crops in the field,” Randall said. “Putting smoke over a road or into a home or barn can be devastating.”
Randall recommends contacting the local fire department to discuss plans to control fire spread and ask if they have any additional suggestions. Counties, municipalities and other areas have restrictions on when burning can occur or may require special burn permits.
For more information about safely conducting a controlled fire, see the ISU Extension and Outreach prescribed burn publication series available for download from the Online Store store.extension.iastate.edu/, search for prescribed burn. To learn what areas in Iowa currently have burn bans in place see http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/main/burnbans/index.shtml.