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City's new fire rules to cover burn barrels, debris piles

By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, March 19, 2020

Before striking that match, you may need to ensure you’re not doing something illegal. Warrenton is poised to adopt new rules regarding outdoor burning.

While barbecues and small recreational fires in backyard fire pits would be allowed without a permit, all other forms of burning within city limits would be regulated.

“Most of our complaints that come are from people clearing their lots … to prepare it for building,” Fire Chief Brian Alsbury said.

The new rules, which require a public hearing before adoption, would require residents to obtain permits for use of a burn barrel or small debris pile and include a city safety inspection.

City commissioners were concerned about placing too many regulations on responsible residents.

“There have been burn barrels in the city my entire life,” Commissioner Mark Baldwin said. “The ones who do this every year and we’ve never had a complaint against, we’re penalizing them because of the jackwagons on the other end doing whatever they want.”

He was opposed to the fire chief’s proposal to charge up to $75 a year, which would cover an initial safety inspection, printed material on fire safety and rules and a year’s worth of allowed burning.

Mayor Henry Balensifer wanted to ensure people could burn branches and other yard debris that falls during winter storms.

“It makes no sense to create a rule that’s unenforceable,” he said.

In the end, commissioners agreed to keep the cost of permits low -- $25 for burn barrels and small debris piles and $50 for larger piles up to 10-feet in circumference. No slash burning would be allowed.

“We’re just trying to eliminate people from taking down trees and burning the whole thing or bringing waste from several areas and doing it all in one location,” Alsbury said.

The burning of industrial, construction, demolition and home waste would not be allowed under the new rules.

A review of the city’s rules arose last year after a developer sent smoke through the city one weekend by burning felled trees in large slash piles.

Fire Chief Brian Alsbury

City Commissioner Mark Baldwin

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