With the fall season in full force throughout the region, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is urging Ohioans to follow state and local open burning laws and to use precautions when burning fall debris.
“With fall’s windy and dry weather, trash and debris fires can quickly become unmanageable,” Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester, states in an ODNR press release. “Burning leaves and tree debris under these conditions also increases the risk for wildfires. All it takes is a little wind to cause a debris fire to escape control and spread.”
The fall season litters fields and lawns with what ODNR refers to as “dry fuel” in the form of fallen leaves, grass/weeds, crops and crop debris. State law prohibits outdoor debris burning from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during October and November.
In the press release, ODNR reminds Ohioans to contact their local fire department if an open burn gets out of control, and anyone found to be in violation of the state’s burning regulations faces a citation and fine. The release also states prior to conducting an open burn, residents should make sure they are adhering to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
The ODNR Division of Forestry offers the following safety tips for burning debris outdoors:
•Consider using a 55-gallon drum with a weighted screen lid to provide an enclosed incinerator.
•Know current and future weather conditions, have fire management tools on hand, and never leave a debris burn unattended.
•Be informed about state and local burning regulations.
•Consult the local fire department for additional information and safety considerations.
•Visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov and firewise.org for more information and tips on protecting home and community.
•Remember: “Only you can prevent wildfires!”
To learn more about outdoor burning regulations, go to forestry.ohiodnr.gov/burninglaws.
Urbana, St. Paris guidelines
The city of Urbana’s website (urbanaohio.com) reminds residents that the only open burning allowed within city limits are recreational fires (campfires, cookouts, etc.) that must contain seasoned (dried) firewood stacked no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high, must be located at least 25 feet from all buildings, and must be attended to at all times.
The burning of yard waste and trash is prohibited within city limits. Instead, the city provides two options to help residents dispose of leaves and other yard debris, said Deb Aksenczuk, administrative secretary.
“Leaves and grass may be dropped off at the compost facility (1261 Muzzy Road) at no charge,” she said. While the city doesn’t charge for non-wood yard waste, there is a minimal fee for any wood debris taken to the compost facility.
The city also provides leaf pickup services, which will take place this year between Oct. 31 and Dec. 5.
Similar to its neighbors to the east, the village of St. Paris prohibits by ordinance the burning of leaves and trash.
In terms of regulating recreational fires, the village’s ordinance allows for such activity as long as the fire is contained in a fire pit or burn ring (no bigger than a 3-by-3 square or a 3-foot diameter circle) and is at least 10 feet away from all structures. The fire must be watched at all times by an adult and can’t burn for more than six consecutive hours. Recreational fires are only allowed noon to midnight Monday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday.
To aid in the removal of yard waste from village lawns, St. Paris Administrator Joe Sampson said, the village conducts curbside leaf collection every fall from the time leaves start to hit the ground through the first snowfall.
As for the disposal of twigs, grass clippings, garden debris, etc., village residents can purchase yard-waste bags from the village which are collected curbside the first Tuesday of every month. For larger items like branches, residents can call the village to have the items picked up or residents can drop the items off at the village facility on Huffman Drive. Both options include a fee.
Open burning policies in eastern Champaign County
In North Lewisburg, Village Administrator Andy Yoder said the village hasn’t adopted regulations concerning open burns. Instead, the issue is handled by the Northeast Champaign County Fire District, which adheres to Ohio EPA regulations.
The village, he said, allows small fires (up to 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high) for cookouts and campfires.
In following with state guidelines, ceremonial fires are allowed provided seasoned firewood is used, the wood stack is no larger than 5 feet in diameter by 5 feet high, and the fire doesn’t last longer than three hours.
Additionally, burning of agricultural waste within municipalities is allowed provided the Ohio EPA is notified in advance and the fire is more than 1,000 feet from any neighboring inhabited building. The burning of land-clearing waste and residential waste within village limits is prohibited.
To aid in the removal of residential yard waste, Yoder said, “The village provides leaf pickup from Oct. 24 basically until the first snow flies.” Also, residents can drop off yard debris at the village brush pile located north of the park near the maintenance garage.
Mechanicsburg Fire Chief Bob Keene said his department also follows Ohio EPA guidelines when it comes to handling open burns in the village.
As for the disposal of yard waste, Mechanicsburg residents have the following options:
•Leaves can either be bagged in biodegradable paper yard waste bags and placed at the curb by 7 a.m. every Monday during the fall season for collection or dropped off at the village’s leaf compost pile on Railroad Street 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
•All other yard waste can dropped off at the village brush pile located on Mill Street.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.