Keeping the holiday flames at bay

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2008

October means the beginning of fall, and with that comes the cool and mild weather many people enjoy spending time in. With the cool temperatures giving everyone a break from the summer heat, individuals are moving to the outdoors for entertainment.

One way people are enjoying the fall weather is by building bonfires. With Halloween right around the corner, there is a good chance family and friends will get together and spend the holiday roasting marshmallows over an open flame while telling ghost stories.

For those who are planning to have such a gathering, it is important to remember fire safety. When creating an area for the fire, make sure there is at least 6 feet of cleared space that is not under low hanging branches. Placing a fire too close to foliage can cause it to spread quickly, creating a hazard for anyone around the area.

To secure your fire, place the fire within a pit or place large rocks around the area to be burned. By doing this you are creating what is called a fire line, which is used in containing a fire.

“It is very important to be careful around a fire, and containing a fire is one of the best ways to stay safe around a fire. Not using accelerants to start your fire is another key factor in being safe,” Forestry Commissioner Brian Smith said. “When you are safe around a fire, then your chances of having a good time during your celebration increase.”

When planning a bonfire, it is also important to know the laws for where you live. If you are within city or town limits, you will need to check with your local municipal office to getting a burn permit.

If you are not within corporate limits, you must have a permit for any area over a quarter of an acre that is going to be burned.

“You have to make sure that you have the proper permits to burn according to the size and location of the fire you are to be in charge of,” Smith said.

The Forestry Commission is called out on many domestic calls for fires that have gotten out of control.

If they are called out to assist you, there is a fine that you may end up having to pay.

Smith said they do have a suppression cost for putting a fire line around the fire.

For your family and friends’ safety, make sure to cover all of your bases before lighting the match to start your holiday bonfire fun.