An outdoor burn that got out of control in Topaz Ranch Estates on Saturday punctuated the effort to revamp Douglas County’s open burning rules.
The burn and resulting fire were small, but memories of the TRE Fire which claimed two homes and prompted fire officials to rewrite the county code are still fresh.
Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to hear a first reading of a revised open burning ordinance at their regular meeting on Thursday.
The new ordinance increases the number of rules from eight to 19, and introduces nearly a dozen different classifications of permits into the county code.
Permits haven’t been required in the past, though residents have been required to have the rules for burning posted at their burn sites, and to call the fire district to find out if burning it permitted on a given day.
According to the new ordinance, open burn permits will be broken down into nearly a dozen different types, including large agricultural for parcels larger than 25 acres, agricultural for 10-25-acre operations, agricultural cooperator, ditch weed abatement, noxious weed abatement, seasonal open burning, ceremonial, recreational, special occurrence, governmental and emergency purpose.
The new ordinance includes substantial detail on what can’t be burned, including garbage, rubbish, oils, and plastic or rubber. That portion of the ordinance, which currently prohibits burn barrels, also requires that anyone who’s burning have a water supply and be at the scene of the burn with a means to call the fire department at all times.
Small fires used to heat branding irons for livestock and enclosed barbecue grills are both exempted from the ordinance.
Under the new code, firefighters will be able to enter on private property for the purpose of investigating a fire and determining if a permit has been issued. They will be able to extinguish an fire and can pursue reimbursement through the District Attorney’s Office for any costs associated with extinguishing a fire.
It will be up to the county’s two fire districts to write regulations to implement the new code, including setting dates and times, and procedures for obtaining permits.
The new ordinance also contains a provision for revoking a burn permit, it also contains the means to appeal the revocation to the fire chief.