CAL FIRE explains how to burn yard debris safely


REDDING, Calif. - Those who live in Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn, and Butte counties need a permit from their local fire departments to burn yard debris.

CAL FIRE officials gave some guidelines on how to burn safely.

While the abundance of rain this winter may tempt some to be lax on burning safety, more rain actually means more vegetation and more fuel, which means it's more dangerous to burn, not less.

Shasta-Trinity CAL FIRE Battalion Chief JT Zulliger said the first thing homeowners should think about when preparing to burn is picking a wide open area away from brush and trees.

"We want to keep the pile four by four in size, so four feet by four feet in diameter," Zulliger said.

He said another important step is to clear the soil ten feet around the pile.

"That's done to make sure the fire doesn't escape control or creep away as the person's doing their burning," Zulliger said.

There is also a risk of fire escapes when people leave piles unattended.

"Numerous escapes occur when people simply aren't there," Zulliger said.

There should also be a tool nearby to fight the fire if it does spread outside the pile.

"They also need to have a hose on site as well to make sure that the fire can be completely extinguished when they leave," Zulliger said.

Skip just one of those steps and the fire can quickly get out of hand.

"In Shasta-Trinity unit last year, approximately 13 percent of our fires were actually caused from debris burn escapes, so it's a big issue here, we just want the public to be safe," Zulliger said.

In fact, many of these burn escapes happen during this time of year. "When we're just transitioning out of the spring time into summer, and burning is still allowed, but things are starting to dry out," Zulliger said.

While most people burn in the mornings, be sure it is completely doused, so it doesn't ignite again later in the day. "As the day gets warmer and drier, the fuels dry out. A pile that doesn't escape in the morning may escape in the afternoon just because things have dried out," Zulliger said.

Those who burn without a permit can be fined, and it is illegal to burn below 1,000 feet in Shasta County.

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