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Burning leaves OK in county but not within city boundaries

The open burning regulations aim at curbing wildfires like this one several years ago in Carbonville.

Sun Advocate publisher

The open burn season in the unincorporated parts of Carbon County is here, but you just can't light up a pile of leaves or branches and expect no fire official to show up at your door.

They need to know.

That is the word from Price Fire Chief Paul Bedont.

"People need to clear burning with county dispatch," said Bedont on Monday morning. "You need to have a verbal permit to burn."

Rumors have flown in the last couple of years that the Utah State Division of Air Quality has been forcing the counties to have residents fill out written permits days ahead of their planned burning and then if the air quality is not good that day the permit is still not valid. However, Bedont said that is not what has happened.

"There was some pressure from the state for rural counties to do that, but there was some pushback from the local governments and that has been changed," said the Chief.

But there are a lot of things residents who are in areas where they can burn should know before they even call dispatch for a verbal permit (435 637-0890).

Dispatch will give the person wanting the permit a number, which they should write down. Also when they are done burning they need to call back to let dispatch know that they are finished.

Bedont says that phone call to dispatch does two things. "First it makes the local fire departments aware that there is a controlled burn taking place so that we are not called to the fire by those who are not aware that the fire is allowed," said Bedont in a prior interview. "Secondly, state and federal environmental law allows burning only when atmospheric conditions are right." Air quality concerns

Air quality is being measured in the area and if the air quality on the day a person wants to burn is too low then the permit will be denied. Residents can check what the air quality is at Then click on Burn Index (NWS) Airshed #11 &12 which is located about half way down on the page on the right side just above the fire fighter photo. This will bring up an index and all the airsheds in the state will appear. The present day is listed (in blue letters) as to what the index actually is. Then the two next days are listed based on a forecast. The air clearing index is a compilation of several environmental factors which affect the atmospheres ability to carry smoke up and away from the ground where it is a hazard to breathe.

"The index needs to be below 500 for the day a person is going to burn," said Bedont. "This is an easy way to see if dispatch will approve burning before you call." But there are many other things to know too.

First of all residents must realize that open burn regulations only pertain to the unincorporated areas. No incorporated city allows general open burning.

Open burning is allowed during daylight hours only and the permit holder must be on-site and monitoring the fire at all times. Permit holders are responsible for any fires they start. That means they could be held criminally and civilly liable for fire suppression costs and any damages which occurs as a result of fire they have started.

Permit holders also cannot burn garbage. People can burn leaves, branches, grass and weeds. Other things should not be burned but taken to the county landfill on Airport Road.

Bedont also says that permit holders need to keep safety in mind both to prevent property damage and possible personal injury.

• Clear the area around the burning material of combustible materials. Fires should be kept in small spaces. There should not be a large roaring fire. This keeps flying embers down that could start another blaze, possibly on someone else's property.

• Never leave a fire unattended. It is the permit holders responsibility to be at the fire at all times.

• Have a way to extinguish the fire. Shovels, fire extinguishers, a hose, and other tools should be nearby should the fire become too large and begin to spread. There have been times when open burn fires have gotten out of control in the area and when fire fighters arrrive they find that the fire was set with weeds or folliage only a few feet away. Often people have no tools to extinguish it either. Also have a cell phone nearby in case of emergency so authorities can be notified of the problem.

• Closely monitor the wind conditions and quickly extinguish the fire if burning embers begin to blow toward other combustibles.

• Adhere to the same rules that one would use while out in the forest with a camp fire. When the burning is finished make sure the fire is completely out before leaving it. Small blazes or embers can easily be reignited with a small breeze and spread beyond where the burn was intended.

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