Burning safely is your responsibility

By From page A14 | May 10, 2013

CAMINO— In 2012, the No. 1 cause of wildland fires Cal Fire personnel responded to was escaped residential debris burn piles. Too often we become lackadaisical about our residential door yard burn piles, we have done it for years, sometimes even decades, and may not take all the necessary precautions that we should. If this sounds like you or someone you know, take note and read on.

“Although we are experiencing some rain, the recent run of unusually warm weather coupled with the lack of precipitation this winter has created a problem for California residents as we have all witnessed in the wildland fires across the state. The California Department of Water Resources stated that as of May 2, the snow pack’s water content, which provides the state with about a third of its water, is 17 percent of normal,” said Amador-El Dorado-Sacramento Unit Chief Kelly Keenan. “Locally in AEU there have been several small wildland fires because the person burning their debris piles lost control of the piles. These fires threaten the surrounding community and can cause the person who started the fire a lot of grief. They may face legal action if the fire escapes their control and burns on to another person’s property and they could be held liable for the suppression costs to put the fire out.”

It’s essential that you make your property “fire safe” with 100 feet of defensible space around all structures but when you choose to dispose of the brush, limbs and other trimmings in burn piles remember these simple rules:

• Obtain your free Cal Fire burn permit from any of your local fire stations. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your fire at all times.

• Immediately prior to igniting your burn pile, you must check burn day status by calling your local Air Pollution Control District/Air Quality Management District. If it is a permissive burn day, make sure you or another responsible adult are in attendance at all times until the burn pile is dead out.

• Clear flammable material for 10 feet around all burn piles and keep a shovel, rake and charged water hose near your burn pile. Having a phone handy will allow you to quickly call 911 if your fire does escape your control.

For burn day status call:

Amador County: 209-223-6246
El Dorado County Western Slope: 530-621-5897 or 866-621-5897
El Dorado County (Tahoe Basin): 530-621-5842 or 888-332-2876
Alpine County: 916-445-0745

After completing your burn project, make sure the fire is completely out. Douse the fire with plenty of water and use a shovel to stir the water into the ground where the fire can lurk for days, weeks or even months. For more information about defensible space requirements, as well as safe burning practices, contact your local Cal Fire station, or visit our Website at

Teresa Mizuhara

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