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PAXTON — With this summer’s drought persisting, city officials are asking residents to use extreme caution when burning and not to leave fires unattended.
“It’s a dangerous situation. Fires can spread real rapidly in this type of situation,” said Paxton Fire Chief Denny Kingren.
Although other towns and counties have issued burn bans to address potential problems, Paxton is continuing to allow burning. Paxton’s ordinances allow the burning of such materials as paper and cardboard, dry leaves, grass clippings and untreated and unpainted wood.
But the fire chief and Mayor Bill Ingold warned that if people do not use common sense, a burn ban could be issued.
“People need to use extreme caution when doing anything around their homes now with fire,” Kingren said. “Be very cautious if you’re trying to burn anything, even wood products, because if the wind is blowing, if (the fire) jumps up, be prepared to take action on it. Because it’s just an extreme situation. We don’t have these types of situations very often.”
“It’s mostly common sense,” Ingold said. “We just ask that people be cautious about how they do that and not leave a fire unattended.”
Kingren said that, so far, it appears residents are using caution, based on the few fire calls his department has had this summer.
“We’ve only had two or three calls this summer,” Kingren said. “I’m very happy that people around here are evidently taking some precautions, because we haven’t had nothing going on.”
Ingold is also asking Paxton residents to be cautious about their use of water. Although he said he does not think the city has “any big dire need to put any rules or regulations” on the use of water, residents are being advised that the city’s water supply is being hit hard this summer.
Water Department Superintendent Mark LeClair said the city’s residents and businesses have used about 100,000 gallons of water more per day than they usually do in the summer months.
“Normally, when it does get warm in the summer, we might use over 600,000 (gallons in a day), but we’ve been averaging about 650,000 a day now because of the heat,” LeClair said. “I think we’ve had some (days when we’ve used) 700,000 gallons, too.”
LeClair said he wants residents to “use some common sense” to keep water usage at a minimum. One suggestion he had was to not leave a sprinkler on for extended periods of time.
“I went around town, and I’ve seen sprinklers that have been on in the daytime, and you go by at night and they’re still on,” LeClair said. “That’s a little bit much.”
“I don’t think any amount of water is going to bring any of these yards back,” Ingold added.
In Gibson City, residents are also being asked to voluntarily conserve water. They are asked to limit their watering to Wednesdays and weekends.
City Superintendent Randy Stauffer said last month that the city wells are “hanging in there” but he decided to ask for the voluntary restrictions since the drought was intensifying.