DEQ spreads word about outdoor burning rules

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Outdoor burning can not only cause fires that are out of control, it also causes air pollution.

State Environmental Officials with DEQ have been traveling around the region making presentations to fire chiefs to make sure everyone knows that backyard trash burning is prohibited within the State of Louisiana.  Generally, the only burning that is allowed is burning of limbs-- and that is only where no local ordinance prohibits such burning.

DEQ officials want to make sure firefighters are aware of the opening burning regulations so that they can pass the information along to the public while in the field. The idea is partly to help make sure those who fight fires and those who fight pollution are on the same page-- when it comes to outdoor burning.

Here's an overview of what's legal and what's not:

Depending on the population where you live outdoor burning may or may not be allowed and may require a permit. In rural Beauregard Parish it is legal to burn trees, branches and leaves ...though you must always attend the fire. Whereas in Calcasieu Parish the rules are different in that trees are not to be burned. And in the Lake Charles area, including all of Ward 3 a permit is required for any outdoor burning. Environmental scientist with DEQ Ned Richard says their rules are to reduce and prevent air pollution. " We got to keep the air as clean as we can. There are ozone standards we are trying to keep from getting out of."

Smoke in the area can make it harder to breathe for everybody but especially those with lung disease. Said Richard, "If you have any breathing ailments such as asthma I'm sure that smoke in the air would affect that."

And while the burning of leaves and limbs may be allowed trash burning is never okay-- it may be something folks did in the old days but today burning household waste outside is illegal and can result in hefty fines. Richard says, "Don't burn your garbage. Don't burn your household residential garbage. That needs to go to a landfill. No,  don't burn your tires."

So far, local DEQ has held meetings with two local fire districts. "We just got done doing Calcasieu Parish and Beauregard Parish. I'm setting up right now to conduct them with Allen Parish," said Richard.

And ordinances vary from city to city, so to make sure you're legal don't burn trash and check to make sure you follow any local ordinances that may be even stricter than state law.

Again any outdoor burning in Lake Charles or Ward 3 of Calcasieu Parish requires a permit from Lake Charles Fire Prevention Bureau.  If you get caught burning without a permit in Ward 3 you can be fined.

For more on Louisiana's open burning law click here.  For more from the U.S. EPA on outdoor burning click here.

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