A statewide burn ban from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. went into effect Tuesday, March 1 and will continue until May 31.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry, wildfire danger is high during spring before plants have turned green, and warm, windy weather contributes to elevated fire risk.
The ban includes the burning of yard waste, trash and debris even in a proper burn barrel. According to the ODNR, a proper burn barrel should always be used when burning outdoors during legal hours.
“In the spring as the temperatures start rising, and the humidity is not really there, and the air is drier, and everything is not greened up yet, the chances of a fire spreading fast are higher,” said Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Public Information Officer Lt. Branden Jackman.
“The biggest thing is no open burns,” he said. “After 6 p.m., they are OK to burn it, but they still have to follow some guidelines. Anything being burned has to be produced on-site, so they can’t haul in brush and burn it. It’s never OK to burn trash.”
People ignoring the ban in past years have led to fires in Highland County, according to Jackman.
“In years past when we come into these seasons we get very busy, especially when the weather turns really nice and you get those first 70- and 80-degree days where it’s very sunny,” he said. “We will run multiple grass fire calls a day because people don’t adhere to the burn ban, and a lot of it is lack of education because they don’t realize that they were violating the burn ban.”
The ban is enforced by state law.
“Typically, we’re going to get a call that there’s smoke in the area, and then we’re going to come and put their fire out,” said Jackman. “If there are repeat offenders, they can be fined through the state of Ohio or the sheriff’s office might end up levying a citation as well.”
In limited cases, exceptions to the ban can be made.
“We’ll work with people, and we’ll make exceptions if they’re doing it safely and monitoring it, but we really try not to because it takes just one ember if the wind picks up and it gets into a field and then you’ve burnt 10 acres and the neighbor’s house down,” said Jackman.
More information is available on the district’s Facebook page @pcjefd or by contacting the ODNR Division of Forestry at 877-247-8733.
Other restrictions regarding outdoor burning are put in place year-round by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Technically, you should never have a fire within 1,000 feet of a structure, and the smoke can’t obscure roadways,” said Jackman.
Materials that are never allowed to be burned include food waste, dead animals, or materials containing rubber, grease, asphalt, or made from petroleum. No burning is allowed when an air pollution alert, warning or emergency is in effect.
“Just burn safely, monitor it, and never leave it unattended,” said Jackman.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.