A local landowner learned that illegal burning can be costly to the environment and to the person who lit the fire, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
An open burning permit is required for any fire larger than a campfire up to 3 feet in diameter. Open burning is restricted to vegetative materials such as trees, grass, brush or untreated, unpainted lumber. The permit does not allow the burning of materials including garbage, tires, plastics, sheetrock, plywood, painted boards or any other nonvegetative materials.
A Lac qui Parle County resident received a county-issued burning permit that specifically stated he could not burn buildings. In spite of this, the landowner allowed a burning brush pile to ignite a house and two sheds. The blaze could be seen from several miles. The Lac qui Parle Sheriff’s Office reported the fire to DNR. After evaluating the incident, DNR contacted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for assistance.
An investigation of the site and circumstances resulted in a $7,000 civil fine, landowner responsibility for costs of transporting burned debris to a proper disposal site and a warning ticket from DNR.
Illegal burning is a misdemeanor, but bigger financial penalties often result from loss of property, proper disposal of burnt materials and firefighting expenses.
Tom Romaine, DNR Fire Supervisor South, said proper clean-up of the site is crucial, since residue from burning illegal materials can create toxins that poison groundwater and the atmosphere.
“When considering the burning of any materials, the best and least costly alternative is to do it right,” Romaine said.
Residents of Lac qui Parle County with questions on building demolition should contact Jennifer Breberg at Lac qui Parle County Environmental Services. She can be reached at 320-598-3132. Permits for burning can be obtained through the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office. Other questions on burning can be directed to Tom Romaine at DNR, 507-359-6048.
Any suspected unauthorized or illegal fires should be reported by dialing 911.
“The best policy is, if in doubt, report it,” Romaine said. “An early report of a fire enables a quicker response time and helps to keep fires small.”
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For additional information on open burning, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/questions.html