Elkhart Co. expands burn ban

Elkhart County Commissioners banned smoking, most grills and campfires at county parks as dry conditions persist.

Elkhart County's burn regulations are stricter than St. Joseph County's. Earlier this month the commissioners banned fireworks during the Fourth of July.

Dispatch logs showed firefighters in the city of Elkhart responded to three grass fires from July 1 to July 5. Firefighters in South Bend responded to 21.

"We had about twice the number of firework related incidents than we had in years past," said St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney. "For the most part, with conditions being as dry as they have, most of the incidents that occurred, I don't think the firework ban would have addressed those issues because they were more kind of careless or reckless use of fireworks that would have probably happened no matter what the conditions were."

A traditional burn ban remains in effect in St Joseph County. Both counties may rethink their bans if the rain continues.

"We were watching the situation very closely we were talking with the local law enforcement, fire folks and they felt that we hadn't quite reached that stage yet," said Kostielney. "If conditions continue to get drier over the next two or three weeks then we might have to look at more aggressive actions"

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