We may have had a lot of snow this winter, but ground conditions appear to be very dry.
Firefighters across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan were kept busy Monday by several large brush, field and wood fires.
The Penn Township Fire Department is reminding all of us about the hazards of open burning.
Brian Kazmierzak is Penn Township's Battalion Training Chief and says "per (St. Joseph County) ordinance, there is no open burning except under certain circumstances (no neighbors within 200 feet during certain times of the year, agricultural and with a burn permit). At no time is the burning of trash or non-natural materials allowed."
"Even with the recent snow melt, dead vegetation is EXTREMELY dry and can burn very quickly and get out of control," said Kazmierzak. "In addition, even with a light breeze, this can greatly increase fire spread as well.
He recommendsthat no one burns at all. However, if there is a need to burn natural materials, the instructions for a burn permit are below:
Procedures and restrictions pertaining to this permit for open burning.
1. This is only an application for an open burning permit and must be submitted 7 days prior to date of burn. Once you have returned the completed form to one of our two fire stations, a fire department representative will visit the proposed burn site. The application is then forwarded to the St. Joseph County Health Department for their approval. The total process from application to approval will take at least two days not including mail delivery.
2. Once the application has been approved and signed by the St. Joseph County Health Department, the Health Department will mail you the permit, until then burning is not allowed.
3. Once approved, the permit is good for the two week period which you listed on the application.
4. All burning must take place between dawn and dusk.
5. If a health-related complaint is received regarding your burning, the fire must be extinguished even though a permit has been issued.
6. All burn piles must not be any larger than three feet high and five feet in diameter and be at least 25 feet away from other combustibles such as bushes, wood piles, or buildings. The burning site must be attended at all times.
7. No stumps, grass clippings, leaves, finished lumber or other construction materials are to be burned with this permit.
8. The open burning permits were designed for storm clean-up not clearing a lot for construction.
If you should have any questions not answered above, please contact Penn Twp. Fire Department at 255-5075 or the St. Joseph County Health Department at 235-9721 (Environmental Division).