The Huntington County Commissioners have extended the ban on burning in Huntington County to Monday, July 2, when it will once again be re-evaluated.
State law provides that the use of fireworks by private individuals cannot be banned from June 29 to July 9, says Huntington Fire Marshal and County Commissioner Leon Hurlburt. However, he says he does have the ability to shut down or delay any public display of fireworks, most notably the annual July 4 show at Huntington North High School sponsored by American Legion Post 7, should he deem conditions unsafe.
Because of the dry conditions, the show has been moved from the lawn area near the softball fields to the blacktop, where the Huntington Fire Department will have trucks staged.
"The big thing that I will be looking at is wind, how strong the wind is," says Hurlburt. "If we have a pretty sizeable, strong wind, probably going to look real seriously on maybe postponing (the show)."
If the show were to be postponed, it would most likely be held the following day, Thursday, July 5.
Hurlburt encourages citizens who plan to light fireworks on their own property to have a garden hose nearby and to closely supervise the area.
"Now, what people need to understand is if they do this and (a firework) goes off their property and it goes on someone else's property and causes a situation where there's a fire, there's a lot of things that can come back to them liability-wise," Hurlburt says.
"We don't want to have to cite people or charge them with a misdemeanor if we can avoid it," Brian Topp, interim director of the Huntington County Emergency Management Agency, adds. "And that's really what the law is there for, is those instances of gross negligence. If you're burning brush and you catch somebody's barn or somebody's house on fire as a result of your negligence, then you may be charged with a Class D misdemeanor at that point."
Ultimately, though, Hurlburt and Topp are both pleased with how citizens have adhered to the burn ban so far.
"I've been really, really pleased with the citizens throughout the whole community of Huntington - that includes the county and the city," says Hurlburt. "Everybody understands the situation and they're being extremely smart about what they're doing or not doing."
"Common sense is prevailing at this point," says Topp.