Dry weather prompts burning permit limits

March 24, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


Unusually dry weather has prompted Washington and Frederick counties to limit the number of outdoor burning permits they issue.

Washington County does not have a ban on outdoor burning, but the health department is judging applications for burning permits on a case-by-case basis. Director of Environmental Health Ted Gordon said people who already have permits may burn.

"We're taking into consideration the fact that we are in a drought status and (Maryland Department of Natural Resources) is concerned about forest fires," he said.

DNR and Maryland Department of the Environment typically monitor conditions and make recommendations.

Because an outdoor burning permit would allow someone to burn brush and other materials the size of a vehicle, Gordon said size and location are important factors when deciding to issue a permit.


"Things are just extremely dry," he said.

Accuweather meteorologist John Feerick said only 1.1 inches of precipitation fell in February. The normal amount, he said, is 2.35 inches.

This month, only .21 inches has fallen. The average is 2.27 inches, Feerick said.

"They're much drier than normal, but we're a ways away from saying that we're worried about a drought," he said. "At some point we are going to need to get some rain here and catch up."

The Frederick County Health Department announced it would not issue any open burning permits until an outdoor burning ban is lifted for the county. The decision was based on a Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue announcement, according to a written release.

The ban is required to reduce the number of wildfires and applies to all outdoor burning, including campfires, bonfires, fireworks, and leaf, brush, grass and trash burning, officials said.

The ban does not affect the use of gas grills.

Outdoor burning in West Virginia is always restricted March 1 through May 31 and Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, said Jim Guerrin, service forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

Burning is allowed from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m. in residential areas without a permit, he said. Commercial and agricultural operations may burn from 7 a.m. to 4 a.m. with a permit, he said.

Greene Township, Pa. has not allowed outdoor burning since drafting a 2004 ordinance banning the practice.

Washington and Antrim township officials said they have not enacted any burning restrictions there.

Tri-State burning regulations

Washington County no ban

Frederick County ban in effect

West Virginia restricted burning

Greene Township, Pa. ban in effect

Antrim Township, Pa. no ban

Washington Township, Pa. no ban

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