Backyard Burning in Marion County
Illegal backyard burning is one of the leading causes of fires in the state of Florida.
In fact, in the month of March, there were 17 illegal burns in Marion County alone.
A backyard burn can start small, calm and controlled, but there's a chance it could end up escaping and beocming a wildfire.
Currently there is a voluntary burn ban in Marion County which includes campfires as well as backyard burning.
"What they are saying when there is a voluntary burn ban is it's just really not a good idea to burn. The weather conditions make it dangerous," said Jessica Greene who is the Marion County Fire Rescue Public Information Officer.
When the time comes and the burn ban is not in affect, you will be allowed to burn in your backyard, but there are specific guidelines you have to follow.
Lieutenant Miguel Ortiz said you are only allowed to burn yard debris like tree limbs and scrubs.
Citizens cannot burn garbage, furniture or other materials.
"These are the two ways you can burn in Marion County. You have the non-combustible barrel and over here you have a burn pile that you can burn, but this can't be over eight feet in diameter," said Lt. Ortiz.
The earliest time you can burn is 9 a.m. and the fire has to be put out one hour before sunset.
"The setbacks are you can't be within 150 feet from a neighboring structure. You can't be 50 feet form a paved road," said Ortiz.
The burn must be 25 feet from your home, other structures, forests and brush.
Greene said keeping your eyes on the fire is a must.
"All it takes is one gust of wind and you have an outdoor fire," said Greene.
Keeping a source of water close by is also imperative.
If you are caught burning illegally for the first time, you will be fined $50.00, but if your fire escapes it could be much more pricey.
"If your burning in your back yard and the fire get out of control and escapes and it burns 160 acres and someone else's home down, there is a potential that you could be responsible for those damages," said Greene.
So for now, its best to simply not strike the match.
The United States Forest Service has also banned camp and cooking fires in the Ocala National Forest, unless you are at a campsite that has fire rings.
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