Allen County residents are advised to familiarize themselves with county laws before firing up burn barrels or torching a pile of leaves this fall.
Burning permits are not required in Allen County, but following limitations are in place:
Burn piles must be at least 20 feet away from structures, roads or power lines.
Burning is permitted only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wind speeds should be less than 20 mph , and burning cannot take place during a pollution alert day.
Only clean wood or untreated wood products, brush and leaves that originated from the property may be burned.
Materials must be burned in a noncombustible, ventilated container.
When burning debris, residents should be courteous to neighbors, said David Ringer, fire chief of St. Joseph Township Fire Rescue Corp.
Smoke nuisance fires are the most common type of calls his department receives, Ringer said. He has already issued the first warning of the season to a resident who has repeatedly violated the nuisance smoke laws, he said.
Firefighters first determine whether the smoke complaint is valid, and if so, they extinguish the fire, he said.
If we are called to that same location for the same reason multiple times, we issue a warning, Ringer said.
Subsequent complaints can lead to an infraction charge and fine of $25. Anyone who willfully and repeatedly violates the rules can be subject to fines as high as $2,500, he said.
Residents need to be aware of wind direction and pick a remote area of their property to burn, Ringer said.
Residents are also advised to keep a hose and shovel handy in case it become necessary to contain the burn.
Local or state authorities can extinguish or demand that residents extinguish any fire determined to be a nuisance, pollution problem or threat to property or public health.