Permits required for outdoor fires

Posted: Tuesday, May 01, 2001

Fire season is here, and beginning today, the Alaska Division of Forestry will require central Kenai Peninsula residents to obtain free state permits before burning brush, grass or yard debris.

To keep the fire trucks from appearing in your yard, notify Forestry and the local fire department before you burn. All open fires must be attended at all times. If firefighters are dispatched to an unattended fire, they will put it out and charge the cost to those responsible for the fire.

For a burn permit, information about fire prevention or information about the FireWise program for making homes easier to defend against wildfires, call the Division of Forestry at 260-4222 in Soldotna or 235-7734 in Homer.

According to Forestry, the following present the greatest risks of starting a spring wildfire:

n Brush piles burned during winter in or near wooded areas may be still smoldering. Check piles burned during the winter to be sure they are out.

n Burn piles or campfires in tall dead grass are a common cause of grass fires. Dead grass exposed by receding snow dries quickly and becomes extremely flammable. Grass fires can spread with incredible speed. People who burn grass should establish adequate perimeters to prevent their fires from spreading.

n Fires started on tundra or moss may burn deep into the ground and smolder in roots and stumps. Smoke may not be visible, though there may be a hot ash pit several feet deep. Underground fires may spread to the surface during the fire season, and ash pits may severely burn people who inadvertently step into them.

n Burning brush piles or other debris on windy days is a common cause of wildfires. Check with Forestry to determine if it is a safe day to burn. If you have a fire and the wind comes up, put out the fire. When burning, have several people on hand with adequate tools and water. If your fire gets out of control, dial 911 immediately.

n Oversized burn piles also can cause trouble. Keep brush piles small and feed the fire as it burns down. That allows for quick extinguishment if the wind rises or fire behavior becomes erratic.

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