Tips for safe burning

Posted: Friday, May 24, 2002

It's hot. It's dry. It's perfect weather to launch the unofficial beginning of summer. It's also the perfect recipe for a fire to get out of control.

This time of year is typically prime time for fire danger, and it's impossible to be too careful. One sure way to reduce the fire danger, however, is to follow the rules.

Rule No. 1 is never burn when burning is not permitted.

The state Division of Forestry and peninsula fire service agencies last week issued a burn permit suspension. The suspension prohibits open burns but does allow for the use of screen-topped burn barrels and small campfires with proper firebreaks. The Division of Forestry is allowing established-pit campfires in campgrounds and recreation areas, or on the beach. Campfire areas must be clear of all burnable vegetation and located in dirt or surrounded by mowed, green lawn.

A word of caution, however: The Division of Forestry has warned "anyone who lights a fire that spreads out of control will be held liable for damages, including suppression costs and face possible criminal penalties for violations of the open burning regulations." In other words, be extremely careful with your campfires and burn barrels this dry Memorial Day weekend.

The Division of Forestry has issued the following guidelines to help residents enjoy a fire-safe holiday:

Do not light any fire during windy conditions.

Locate campfires in established campfire grates or on dirt or sand surrounded by a firebreak 10 feet wide, clear of all burnable material including dry grass and mossy ground cover. Mowed, green lawn is an acceptable firebreak.

Keep campfires small -- no larger than 2-feet-by-2-feet in diameter.

Have water near the fire to control and extinguish the fire.

Never leave a campfire or burn barrel unattended. Stay with the fire until it is out.

Put the fire out with water and stir with a shovel. To ensure that the fire is out, feel for heat with the back of your hand before leaving the area.

Devices that burn using charcoal briquettes will be treated as an open fire and must be located in a clear area. Briquettes must be soaked with water prior to disposal.

Remember all fireworks are illegal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The Division of Forestry notes that cloudy conditions will not significantly reduce fire danger on the peninsula; a good rain is needed before the burning restrictions will be lifted.

Why take a chance? There are better things to do this weekend than play with fire.

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