A Jamestown home was 60 percent destroyed when a fire engulfed the structure early Thursday morning, June 28.
The house, at 4668 South Ind. 75, was full engulfed with flames when firefighters arrived shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday. No one was injured.
A barbecue grill that was kept too close to the house started the fire, said Advance Fire Chief Jim Caldwell. The grill was still hot from the night before, eventually catching the back deck on fire, which then went through the back of the house to the garage and the roof. The home was worth about $200,000.
“With low humidity, a fire burns a lot faster in these conditions,” Caldwell said.
These severe conditions — heat, wind, no rain and low humidity — prompted the Boone County Commissioners to issue a disaster emergency declaration ordering a burn ban Wednesday evening. The proclamation prohibits any campfires and recreational fires and the burning of debris like timber or vegetation. Gas and charcoal grills can still be used, but charcoal may only be removed from grills once it is completely cooled down.
The declaration also strongly encourages people to attend public displays of fireworks and to limit the use of personal fireworks to those that do not leave the ground and to refrain from the use of aerial firework devices.
The biggest fire threat right now is the use of personal fireworks, Lebanon Fire Chief Jason Lee said.
“Of course we’d like to say don’t use any fireworks, but that’s not going to happen,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, we have no control until maybe the fifth or sixth of July.”
The problem is not just the dry vegetation, he said. But the building materials, the lumber on porches, decks and mini barns, are just as abnormally dry as that vegetation.
“When this happens, the probability for multiple structure fires is very high and very real,” he said. “And if we have multiple runs at the same time, we’ll have a skeleton crew per incident. We’ll have to allow significant losses.”
If using fireworks, Lee encourages people to wet down their lawns in the days prior to using them and even after. Notice the wind direction, and have someone keeping an eye on all the sides of nearby homes while fireworks are in use.
“Small grass fires will get out of hand very, very quickly,” he said.
Lebanon firefighters did a little test last week at Southside Park, while making the decision whether or not to allow let the fireworks display after Symphony at Sunset. In 29 percent humidity, Lee lit a piece of paper on fire and threw it on the ground.
“Frankly, it about got away from me,” he said.
The Symphony fireworks were nearly canceled, but they were permitted because the humidity jumped to 20 percent at the last minute. As expected, there were a few small grass fires resulting from the fireworks, he said.
They don’t want to take away people’s fun, Lee said, “but we just ask everyone to be safe and responsible and use common sense.”