By Meg Olson
Hot summer weather means increased fire danger and the county fire marshal has imposed a ban on outdoor burning.
“Wildland fires are becoming a bigger concern during the summer,” said fire chief Christopher Carleton. “Burn safely and educated.”
On July 12, a burn ban was implemented to cover land clearing and residential fires, but recreational fires are still allowed at this time. All fires need permits, which can be obtained at the Benson Road fire station. The fire department website (wcfd5.com) has information about obtaining permits, rules for fires and updates on the status of the burn ban, which can become a total ban on outdoor fires if hot dry weather persists.
Violations of burn restrictions can result in a minimum $250 fine. In addition, if you have a fire that escapes or needs to be extinguished by the fire department, you may be held financially responsible for fire suppression costs, as well as be criminally charged.
Carleton said the fire district had been working with other regional organizations on how local residents should respond to emergencies, and wildfires were one of them. Carleton said residents and visitors were encouraged not to run for the border but to head away from the fire and for the beaches. “You should be safe by the water,” he said. Rather than trying to load animals and drive them off the Point, Carleton said it was best to release them. “They will find safety and we can help round them up once the event is mitigated.”
Users of local parks and trails are also asked not to smoke. “We’d appreciate people not smoking during a burn ban when moisture levels are so low,” Carleton said. “We have the ability to respond to fires in these areas but it is limited so we are asking people in the parks and on the trails for their cooperation.”
Rules for recreational fires:
• Must only contain seasoned firewood or charcoal.
• Must be contained in an enclosure no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet across, and must be a minimum 16 inches high, made of cement blocks, stones or steel.
• Beach fires (where allowed) can be dug into an 8-inch deep pit, surrounded by 4-inch high enclosure of rocks.
• Fires must be 25 feet from structures, timber and combustible materials.
• A charged garden hose or (2) 5-gallon buckets full of water to be next to the fire.
• A shovel or rake capable of stirring and extinguishing the fire to be on-site.
• Recreational fires are allowed after dark, if attended by someone 16 years or older at all times.
• Fires must be attended until out cold.
• No burning when winds exceed seven mph.