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Fire crews remind residents of burning regulations after woods fire

“Common sense plays a big factor here. Fire spreads really rapidly, especially this time of year when it dries out and the winds pick up,” said Bill Knisely, the Fire Chief at Bertrand Twp. Fire Department.

Knisely says it’s the basics that go a long way when burning leaves and other bits of last winter’s dead leftovers.

“When the temperatures rise, it can be pretty hot, and it’s been dry for a long period of time,” said Knisely.

A fire broke out at a local homeowner’s backyard and spread to a wooded area Monday afternoon in Buchanan as a result of burning leaves.

“Got away from them and got into the woods and burned a pretty g section of woods out,” said Knisely.

Knisely says it’s not wrong to burn rubble, but there are a few things you need to know before and after and it’s not just about keeping it contained to one area.

“If you’re burning paper or something, enclosed can of some sort with some kind of perforated lid. And we encourage people, if they are going to be doing any burning, that they have some kind of water source out there, preferably a garden hose or something,” said Knisely.

Fire crews tell me that calling ahead of time can actually save a headache for both sides.

“Call and let your area fire department know what you’re doing because people drive by and see a fire and then they want to call it in, well it stops that chase right there,” said Knisely.

Knisely says it’s best to burn a little, a lot, rather than a lot all at once because Mother Nature is no match.

“A lot of people this time of year are picking up the leaves, the sticks and whatever brush it may be. Some people like to collect it for years and it gets as big as a garage in some cases and then they try burning it off themselves and that’s where problems come in,” said Knisely. “Fire creates its own wind and you add it to whatever mother nature is producing and it usually spells out trouble.”

Bertrand Township has a burning ordinance that they base off the state of Michigan’s requirements.

First, when you call to obtain a burning permit, the station asks that you leave your name, address, what you plan on burning, and a phone number in case they need to contact you.

Burning ordinance rules:

No burning after dark unless the burning is attended to at all times.

Only burn paper or wood products. State law prohibits burning rubber, plastics, tires, vinyl, chemicals, fiberglass, or any material or fluid that produces black or toxic smoke.

State law prohibits opening burning of any constriction or demolition materials.

No burning if winds exceed 5-10 mph.

If you need to contact the Bertrand Fire Chief, call 269-591-0440

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