As leaves pile up, dry conditions force burn ban

HOWLAND, Ohio (WYTV) – The dry conditions across the state have forced a statewide burn ban.

Even without the dry weather conditions, The Ohio Forestry Department has deemed October and November as wildfire season in the state.

Fall is the season for bonfires and leaf burns, but there are some rules that must be followed. Howland Fire Chief James Pantalone said attention needs to be paid how big the fire and what you are burning.

“Your fire must be contained to a 3×3 square area. It has to be contained by an allocated area that should be clear of leaves and dry grass,” Pantalone said.

The burn ban means nothing can be burned outside between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. But even with the ban in place, people will start fires in their yards.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most wildfires in the state are the result of debris burns and arson.

Pantalone says it only takes a second to lose control of a fire.

“You will never be able to get ahead of it. You will never have time to go get your garden hose or a bucket of water. It will move quickly,” Pantalone said.

Tama Soliman of Howland bags her leaves. She says setting them on fire is dangerous, especially with the dry conditions.

“Especially if the wind picks up they are going to start blowing ashes, and it going to be a disaster for the fire department and the first responders, Soliman said. “Bag ‘em up and put ‘em on the curb.”

In Howland, leaves packed into paper bags will be picked up by the township along with the garbage.

Pantalone said bonfires are not illegal, but there some rules. Burning can take place to create heat and to cook. You can also burn for religious reasons, with the appropriate paperwork, but all fires fall under burn ban for as long as it is in effect.