St. Clair County issues no burn ban

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ST. CLAIR COUNTY, IL (KPLR) –St. Clair County issued a ban on open burning Sunday in hopes of reducing brush fires.  Firefighters serving unincorporated parts of the county report some 200 fires in March linked to outdoor burning or careless smoking.

One quickly extinguished brush fire in a yard north of Belleville could have spread to an apartment building.  The East Side Fire Protection District responded to the call.  The district`s Asst. Chief Lynwood Mueller said the property owner was burning branches and gum balls when the dry, windy weather caused the fire to spread.  'They could have burned up a neighbor`s fence, a shed and caught an apartment building on fire,' Mueller said.

St. Clair CO Emergency Management Agency director Herb Simmons urged County Board Chairman Mark Kern and Sheriff Rick Watson to join him and issue the 'No Burn' order. 'We want to put this temporary ban in for protection for our first responders, ' Simmons explained.

Sunday morning a blaze burned four acres of a corn field.  Last Monday someone burning brush after cleaning a garden saw the fire spread to three RVs and the house. 

'It doesn't take long,' said Simmons.

Mueller agreed. 'People don`t realize how dry the conditions are and with any wind at all the fire really spreads.'

The ban will remain in place until April 1.  At that time officials will re-evaluate the weather conditions and decide to extend the no burn order or remove it.

Residents are allowed to use a closed barbeque or a fire pit as long as someone is watching.

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