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Boone County fire officials remind public of outdoor burning, fire safety

With fall coming to an end, many people are looking for ways to dispose of their yard waste.

The city of Columbia does not currently allow open burning within city limits. However, there is an exception if an individual requests a permit.

If requesting a permit, it is important that the materials being burned meet the open burning requirements.

A permit is also required for a bonfire. A bonfire would be considered a fire which does not meet the definition of a recreational fire.

To dispose of yard waste in Columbia, there are city mulch sites listed online for drop off.

Outside of city limits, there are areas where open burning is allowed. The Boone County Fire Protection District follows the Missouri Department of Natural Resources open burning regulations.

Support Services Bureau Director of the Boone County Fire District Gale Blomenkamp said it is important to be prepared for any type of open burning.

"So anytime that anyone is doing any open burning, we ask that they make that phone call to the the 911 center, using the number 311," Blomenkamp said. "Let them know that they're going to be doing an open burning and where it's at, when it's going to start, when they think it'll be out."

He also said it is important for the individual performing open burning to be safe in their preparation.

"Then we ask them to make sure that they have a nice clear area around whatever they're going to burn and that they have a water source handy. And never to leave it unattended," Blomenkamp explained. "Should something get out of control, or should something grow beyond what they believe they can handle, immediately call 911 and let us go out there and take care of it."

Something that all fire safety officials agree upon are the weather protocols. Columbia Fire Lt. Tracy Gray said the weather could be a big issue if not monitored.

"If the wind speeds are over 10 miles an hour, we will not issue a burn permit," Lt. Gray said. "If there's humidity that can't dissipate away from a neighborhood or if it hangs low, we won't issue a permit. Also, if there is rain in the forecast that day, because that kind of keeps the smoke low and doesn't allow it to dissipate in the area."

Lt. Gray also said it is important to have someone come out and inspect the materials being burned before issuing a permit.

"They will investigate it and make sure that the materials that are in there contain no plastic, petroleum, anything that's coated with rubber, no garbage, trash or leaves," Lt. Gray said.

Individuals participating in open burning with a permit are allowed to start the fire themselves. There are some things that Lt. Gray recommends such as "small amounts of paper, small cardboard, or some straw used as a kindle" can get the fire going.

To obtain a permit for open burning, you can contact the city of Columbia Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 573-874-7391 or Saturday and Sundays at 573-874-7450.