INDIANAPOLIS - Much of the state hasn’t received measurable amounts of rainfall in weeks, leaving many counties abnormally dry. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates three-quarters of the state is considered dry or in some form of drought, prompting four more Indiana counties to issue burn bans on Friday. 

Those counties include Gibson, Jennings, Spencer and Vanderburgh, bringing the total to 20 downstate counties where tougher rules on open burning are applied.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says burn bans are decided at a local level, either by township, city or county governments.

IDHS and the Indiana State Fire Marshal are encouraging Hoosiers living in a county with an active burn ban to adhere to the local laws governing the county.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 23 percent of the state is considered drought-free, 57 percent is rated as abnormally dry, and 19 percent is described as in moderate drought. A slight portion of Harrison County is rated as severe drought. For comparison, 55 percent of Indiana was considered free of drought and dryness last week.

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers to take precautions as harvest gets underway. Dry conditions, coupled with hot farm equipment, pose an added risk for farm-related fires.

“Farm vehicles get hot and dusty during harvest season,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler said. “Knowing that, it’s important to keep this equipment clean from dust and debris, and to inspect fuel lines and electrical systems regularly. These are important steps farmers can take to ensure their safety and the safety of others.”

Click here to see a map of the counties currently under a burn ban or visit the IDHS website.