Grass fires keep local fire departments busy.

Story and Photo By Donna Carver

April 22, 2014

Local fire departments have been responding to a number of grass fires recently. According to ODNR division of Forestry, Ohio has about 500 spring wildfires, which burn approximately 3,000 acres annually.

Ohio law states open burning and prescribed fires are prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during March, April, May, October and November. Burning is limited in the spring due to the abundance of dry fuel on the ground. Spring breezes can make a seemingly safe burn quite hazardous. It is important to follow Ohio Environmental protection Agency’s open burning regulations.

What is open burning?

Open burning is any set outdoor fire that does not vent to a chimney or stack. Some studies indicate that even small camp fires burning clean wood can emit harmful chemicals. Burning “unclean” materials can be even more hazardous. For example, when you burn refuse in burn barrels or open piles, the potential cost to your health, your home, your neighbors and your environment far exceeds the price of adequate collection services. Protect yourself, your neighbors and your wallet by knowing what you can burn and where.

Why is open burning a problem?

Open burning can release many kinds of toxic fumes. Leaves and plant materials send aloft millions of spores when they catch fire, causing many people with allergies to have difficulty breathing. The pollutants released by open burning also make it more difficult to meet health-based air quality standards, especially in or near large cities. The gases released by open burning can also corrode metal siding and damage paint on buildings.

What opening burning is never allowed?

Under Ohio law, these materials may not be burned anywhere in the state at any time; garbage, any wastes created in the process of handling, preparing, cooking or consuming food; materials containing rubber, grease and asphalt or made from petroleum, such as tires, cars and auto parts, plastics or plastic- coated wire; and dead animals.

Other restrictions; Open burning is not allowed when air pollution warnings, alerts or emergencies are in effect. Fires cannot obscure visibility for roadways, railroad tracks or air fields. No wastes generated off the premises may be burned. For example, a tree trimming contractor may not haul branches and limbs to another site to burn.

The full text of the law can be found under Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-19, “Open Burning Standards”