Proposal for Columbia County burning

By  | 

It has been a busy week with fires.

Some blame them on high winds.

That creates a worry for some in Columbia County, where open burning of leaves is allowed.

The decision to give neighborhoods the choice to burn or not came after an hour of debate in a packed room.

House fires and the smell of smoke are a big worry for Hollis Key, so he came out to make his point clear.

"I will not stop, I will continue to work on getting some type of fire control within the subdivisions in Columbia County," Key said.

The way it is now, if people are "gonna burn" their yard waste, they can.

The debate went back and forth.

Donald Newman says burning is necessary to get rid of leaves.

Forest ranger Steve Abbot says people like Newman should be allowed to burn yard long as conditions are safe.

"It has to be used correctly. Very small piles...very little wind," Abbot says. "Today's a windy day. So watch how the wind affects the flame on this lighter. It blows it sideways...and that's how smoke can end up in other people's yards."

But some people want to keep burning at least a hundred feet away from other buildings, because some houses--and yards--are too close together.

"In rural areas, yeah, burn. But not in your subdivision, where you have maybe thirty feet between your neighbors and the burning,” said citizen Rose Orr.

"There's no way to keep it from imposing,” said Key.

"I feel that fire is a necessary tool,” said Abbot.

Many opinions were put on the table: the fear of fire, the smell of smoke, and the need to burn waste. And a compromise the board was able to reach.

If passed, the resolution would give the decision to burn to individual subdivisions, and impose stricter penalties on violators.

County commissioners will get the final vote.

You can read the open burning rules at: Click on "about open burning" in the column on the right.