Officials emphasize importance of safety during Utah’s open burn season
by Molly Marcello
The Times-Independent
Apr 13, 2017 | 614 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An open burn in Thompson Springs includes brush and other yard waste. The burn window remains open through May 30, but those who wish to burn allowed materials must first contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office for a permit. 																														   Photo by Orion Rogers
An open burn in Thompson Springs includes brush and other yard waste. The burn window remains open through May 30, but those who wish to burn allowed materials must first contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office for a permit. Photo by Orion Rogers
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The burn window for Grand County is open, and the Southeast Utah Health Department wants the community to stay safe and informed when removing items like bushes, brush, leaves, plants and pruning debris from their property. Although the burn window is open until May 30, residents of Grand County must still obtain a permit to burn by calling the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

“During these burn windows it’s required to have a permit, but we do it as simply as calling the sheriff’s office,” said Orion Rogers, environmental health scientist for the Southeast Utah Health Department.

Rogers says that sheriff’s office employees will inform the caller whether it’s a good burn day or not. Burning can only be conducted when the clearing index — which identifies certain atmospheric conditions — reaches 500 or above.

“Essentially, [the clearing index] indicates how well the smoke will dissipate in the atmosphere,” Rogers said. “It’s what the winds are doing aloft, not just what they’re doing down here.”

He says everyone, from the farming community, to the Bureau of Land Management, to a city resident, must adhere to the guidelines of the clearing index measurement.

“There’s a myth out there that agriculture can burn whenever they want to — no. You have to have a clearing index,” Rogers said.

After a resident gets the go-ahead to burn from the Sheriff’s Office, they must later inform dispatch once the burn is finished, Rogers said.

“It’s just to be sure that nobody thinks your house is burning down,” Rogers said. “You call up and say ‘this is so and so, this is my address, I’m going to burn,’ and then call when you’re done.”

According to Rogers, most people in Grand County burn tumbleweeds, sticks, and other brush from their property.

But he has seen the occasional illegal burn of trash, including old tires, mattresses, and even televisions.

“I often find where somebody has a pile of sticks burning outside, they’ll have a mattress sitting on top,” Rogers said. “The worst thing I saw was somebody burning a mattress and also had a couple of TVs going. I was [thinking], ‘are you kidding me?’”

Utah law clearly restricts the burning of materials that can cause severe air pollution, including trash, rubbish, tires, used oil and plastic.

“Just because it’s capable of burning, does not mean it should be burned,” Rogers said.

Utah’s open burning season will continue through May 30 and open burning will again be allowed from Sept. 15 through Oct. 30 as conditions allow.

To find out if atmospheric conditions are conducive to an open burn, and to obtain a permit to burn call the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 435-259-8115. For questions about open burning, call Rogers at 801-557-6978 or email orogers@utah.gov.

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