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Backyard burning is back

LRAPA logoTomorrow, October 1st, marks the first day of the open/backyard burning season for most residents in Lane County.

“Generally, most residents who live outside the urban growth boundaries of Eugene and Springfield are allowed to burn under LRAPA rules,” said Sally Markos, of the Lane Regional Air Pollution Authority. “However, some cities, including Oakridge, have enacted ordinances that further restrict burning.”

LRAPA also recommends residents call their local fire departments for information regarding restrictions on burning in their areas before they burn. Burning is restricted on days when pollution rises into the moderate category or weather conditions may cause a build up of fine particulate from smoke. Willamette Valley residents should always call LRAPA’s open burning hotline, 541-726-3976, before burning to verify that burning is allowed on any given day. The advisories are updated daily on the agency website,

Residents who are allowed to burn are reminded that burning only woody yard debris generated on their own residential property is allowed, and that all fires must be out by a designated time. Burning trash and garbage is illegal and can result in stiff fines. Burning on prohibited days or after designated hours is also a citeable offense. The first violation of LRAPA’s open burning rules may result in a $500 fine. Fines will increase for repeat violators.

“LRAPA wants to remind residents that although burning might be allowed in their area, smoke from open burning exposes individuals to harmful pollutants, including particulates and air toxics. Smoke can travel quite a distance and impact large areas. The agency asks residents to dispose of debris by composting, chipping, or recycling whenever possible to avoid exposing themselves and others to harmful emissions,” Markos said.

LRAPA strongly discourages the use of burn barrels. Fires in burn barrels receive limited oxygen and burn at low temperatures. Smoke from burn barrels contains of high levels of dioxins, toxic chemicals known to cause birth defects and cancer. The U.S. EPA estimates that one burn barrel (from an average family of four) can produce as much or more dioxin as a fullscale municipal waste incinerator burning 200 tons per day. Burning in proximity to gardens and animals to be used for food creates a serious risk for human health.

Backyard burning generates the largest number of complaints received by LRAPA. Complaints reported to LRAPA about open burning have climbed in the last few years and the agency has levied numerous fines for illegal burning. “People are becoming more aware of the health impacts from smoke and are less tolerant of open burning, even during the burning season. It’s a serious health concern for many people, especially when illegal materials are thrown into the fire.” Markos said.

Residents can dispose of yard debris for a minimal charge at several collection depots, including Lane County transfer sites at Glenwood, Lane Forest Products (541-345-9085), and Rexius (541-342-1835).

Things residents can do to reduce impacts from open burning:

* Keep piles covered and dry until ready to burn;

* Burn only wood debris;

* Use a chipper whenever possible, and burn only what is necessary; and

* Burn well within the property line away from other homes.

Likewise, the Department of Forestry reminds residents to follow safety precautions to prevent backyard

burn piles from escaping into wildfires. Residents are asked to:

* Clear a trail around the burn pile down to mineral soil;

* Keep a shovel and a supply of water handy at the site; and

* Constantly attend the burn site until the fire is completely extinguished.


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