MILFORD - With early flowering plants coming into bloom it’s easy to overlook the region’s recent rainfall shortfall. The dry conditions have increased the likelihood of seasonal brush and forest fires. In response, the Pike County Commissioners on Wednesday ordered a county-wide ban on outdoor open fires, which takes effect today, April 14. According to the state, Pike rainfall is off by 3.9 inches over the past 60 days, a decrease of more than 50-percent of the normal precipitation. The dry weather situation goes beyond Pke. The state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday issued a statewide drought watch. The drought watch calls for a voluntary five-percent reduction in many household water uses and represents the first stage in the drought warning system. Should the condition deteriorate to “drought emergency,” mandatory water usage would apply. There has been no drought emergency in the state since 2002.