NEWS

State lifts ban on outdoor burns

Staff reports

The statewide ban on outdoor burning has been lifted but cautioned residents in forested areas to continue reducing the fire risk around their homes, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain announced last week.

“The state had some rain but these damp conditions could change very quickly,” Strain said. “And in reality, our wildfire season is typically from December 1 through April 15.”

Strain recommended several steps homeowners could take to reduce the risk of wildfire damage to their property.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) fire protection statistics show that 525 wildfires burned more than 6,704 acres of wild land last month. The number was up from only eight wildfires in October 2009.

Strain said his department is responsible for wildfire detection and suppression of 18.9 million acres of wild land, including valuable commercial timber resources, yet receives wildfire detection and suppression funding from landowners for only 53 percent of the protected area.

—Keep wild vegetation near homes trimmed and at least 30 feet away from the house and other structures by using weed eaters, lawnmowers, chainsaws and other mechanized equipment.

—Make sure that all machinery is equipped with proper spark arrestors.

—Refuel your equipment in areas void of vegetation.

—Practice extra caution when fire danger is high.

—Remove all leaves or pine needles that are within 30 feet of a structure.

—Thin tree stands and brush to eliminate continuous vegetation that can promote wildfire spread.

Further information on forest protection, is available at the LDAF Forest Protectionwebsite at www.ldaf.state.la.us