Burn ban begins next week

Published 9:40 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beginning May 1, Suffolk residents are prohibited from open-air burning through Sept. 30 in an effort to improve air quality and reduce wildfires.

The restriction comes from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and also was adopted as an ordinance by Suffolk City Council in 2007. The ban includes all types of burning, from burning in a barrel to commercial land clearing operations.

Failure to comply with the burn ban can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail, as well as a bill for costs incurred by the city in extinguishing the fire.

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Residents are encouraged to take advantage of the city’s bulk pickup service to remove the yard debris or to carry the debris to the landfill for disposal. For large quantities of debris, property owners may want to consider hiring a contractor to remove it, according to a press release from the city.

Burning of leaves, yard waste or trash is the leading cause of wildfires in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry. Open burning is responsible for 30 percent of wildfires — more than smokers, children and lightning combined.

Through April 30, the 4 p.m. burning law is in effect. Open burning is allowed only between 4 p.m. and midnight if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

For more information on open burning and fire prevention, call the Fire Prevention Bureau 514-4540.