Burning leaves allowed in Eau Claire during ‘high’ fire danger threat

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- As the leaves continue to fall you may be thinking of sprucing up your lawn.

But you should know that striking up a fire to burn your yard waste could have devastating consequences if it gets out of control.

Eau Claire, Chippewa, Dunn and other surrounding counties are now under a “high” fire danger warning from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

That means the DNR is not allowing burning on any kind in those counties.

But that's not always the case in one community.

Despite the DNR ban, the city of Eau Claire allowed people to get permits to burn lawn waste on Monday.

But firefighters say that doesn't mean you shouldn't take extra precautions with all the dry conditions we've been having.

After filling out a permit, paying $3 and slipping it all into a little red box, Eau Claire residents are free to start a fire in their yards to get rid of all those troublesome leaves.

“This permit applies to burning of garden waste, vegetable matter, leaves and brush under 1 inch in diameter,” said Scott Burkhart, the Deputy Chief of Prevention and EMS for Eau Claire Fire and Rescue.

The permit boxes are placed outside all six of Eau Claire's fire stations.

“Our battalion chief each morning will review the conditions and either allow or not allow on that particular day,” Burkhart said.

The fire department is even using Twitter to let people know which days are ok for getting a permit.

Burkhart said those permits are able to be handed out during the DNR’s burning ban because of extra burning restrictions and the chances of a grass fire breaking out in the city are smaller.

He said if you're going to be burning you should do it in a clear area away from brush and buildings.

“Fires must be kept small, a pile of not more than 3 feet in diameter by 3 feet tall. There also must be a garden hose available, must be attended at all times,” Burkhart said.

And because of the dry conditions, people who live on the edge of town by woods should be extra cautious.

“So if your fire does get away from you, you are responsible for that.
That permit does not take away that responsibility at all,” Burkhart said.

If you're caught burning without a permit or past 9 p.m. on selected days you could be fined up to $500.

As well as getting information on Twitter, you can call the fire department's burning hotline at 715-839-3882.

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