The majority of the state is now under a burn ban, which includes Daviess, McLean, Ohio, Muhlenberg and Hancock counties.

According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, there are 109 of the state's 120 counties that have a burn ban in effect.

Burn bans are typically issued due to current and predicted dry conditions, elevated winds and low humidity that create an increased risk of fire hazards within the county. They are issued with the intent to help protect the health, safety, welfare and property of the community.

According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, burn bans typically prohibit all outdoor fires including the burning of leaves and debris or open pit cooking as well as the use of fireworks. A common exception to this is outdoor food preparation in a contained grill.

Muhlenberg County's burn ban went into effect Sept. 17. Ohio and Hancock Counties have both been under burn ban restrictions since Sept. 23 and Daviess County issued a ban last week on Sept. 27.

"It's a tinderbox waiting for a spark," Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said.

McLean County's ban went into effect on Sept. 19. McLean County Judge-Executive Edward West said the ban was put into effect following a field fire near Buck Creek that started from a bale of hay. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

As of Oct. 2, the county has had no significant amount of rainfall for 28 days, West said. This is true for most of the region as well.

He said the grass is brittle and trees are shedding leaves in order to survive, both of which increase the risk of a potential fire.

"Right now, it's been the perfect storm of dry weather. We have low humidity, constant winds … the high temperatures … it's the perfect conditions for a fire to get away from us," West said. "If it ever got away from us, it could be a fire pretty significant."

According to a Sept. 20 press release from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, many Kentucky counties are currently enforcing a burn ban.

In the press release, UK college of agriculture meteorologist Matthew Dixon said many areas in the state have not seen significant rainfall since the end of August. He said Kentucky as a whole has averaged only .07 inches of rain since the beginning of September.

"Kentucky is officially in agricultural drought," Dixon said in the press release. "It's dry now, and the forecast isn't giving us much promise for rainfall going forward."

Dixon said pasture conditions around the state are diminishing and farmers are beginning to feed livestock with supplemental hay.

While water availability for livestock is beginning to become a concern for some counties in the state, according to Dixon, West said there have not been any significant complications with water supply in McLean as of yet.

"I haven't heard of anybody getting desperate enough to haul water or anything yet, but the pond level is dropping," West said. "The river level is dropping … some of our cities draw water from the rivers, but I haven't heard of any complications there as of yet."

While the burn bans will stay in effect for each county until there is significant rainfall, West said that he has become less worried about the possibility of an uncontainable fire since most corn fields have been harvested.

"Corn fires burn extremely hot and extremely fast. Most of the corn is out of the field now. A cornfield fire … there's really no putting them out. All you can try to do is contain them," West said.

This week's weather forecast, however, does predict lower temperatures in the 70s starting this coming Sunday with potential thunderstorms and a 59% chance of rain on Sunday.

cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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