Burn ban now mandatory

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The Marion County Multi-Agency Wildland Task Force unanimously recommended a mandatory burn ban for Marion County.

Marion County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes approved and signed the emergency declaration, making the burn ban effective as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The mandatory ban is due to the hot, dry and windy conditions that continue to exacerbate and threaten wildfires within Marion County.

This measure is intended to help protect the health, safety and property of the citizens and visitors of Marion County.

The burn ban prohibits all outdoor burning with the following exceptions:

Use of outdoor cookers or grills as long as they are attended by a responsible adult at all times the unit is burning, cooking or otherwise in use.

Commercial land clearing where: inspection of review and approval has been granted by the Florida Forest Service or Marion County Fire Rescue on a case-by-case basis and it is determined that there will be sufficient fire suppression personnel and equipment on scene. Authorization must be granted by the Florida Forest Service.

Public fireworks displays with adequate fire suppression equipment and personnel on site, and pursuant to Marion County’s special use permit and Marion County Fire Rescue’s fireworks permit.

Meanwhile, firefighters urge citizens to follow these safety tips:

Delay outside burning until the mandatory burn ban is lifted.

Take yard debris to Marion County’s landfill or recycling centers, a safer alternative to backyard burning. Citizens should call 352-671-8465 for more information.

Immediately report arson or other suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Use vehicle ashtrays instead of throwing cigarette butts out the window.

Use caution when mowing or working with other equipment that could spark.

If you spot a fire or large column of smoke, call 911.

The Marion County Multi-Agency Wildland Task Force formed shortly before the unprecedented 1998 wildfire season. Over the last decade, firefighters and other public safety professionals from local city, county, state and federal agencies have met on a routine basis to discuss wildfire conditions, call load, manpower capabilities, wildfire tactics and public education campaigns.

The task force will meet frequently and keep citizens informed about any changes in wildfire conditions.