The Importance of Burn Permits

Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 3:24 PM EDT
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As the county slowly starts to dry following the winter, many may clean up their yard by burning it, but it’s important to know the rules. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard speaks with the Maine Forest Service.

It’s fire season in the County. As spring brings us closer and closer to warm weather, people are starting to get outside and clean up their yards. Carson Hartman is a Forest Ranger with the Maine Forest Service and says people need to be aware of the importance of burn permits, and when one is required.

“Any brush or debris burning, get a permit and that’s something we check for. We appreciate people getting permits, its required by law and you’ll most likely see a ranger around just checking, making sure you’re following all criteria on the permit”

Burn permits are not required for small campfires on your own property, though one may be required by your municipality, however if you plan on burning branches or brush, a permit is required. According to the Maine Forest Service anyone who engages in an outdoor burn without a permit is committing a Class E crime, and if that fire causes damage that would require fire suppression, that individual could be ordered to pay restitution up to 125,000 dollars.

“We have an online burn permit system, this year it’s actually free, in past years it cost 7 dollars but this year it’s free. You go right to and you go through all the information there. The burn permit is good for 24 hours.”

Hartman says ensuring these burns don’t develop into wildfires is one of the Forest Services’ top priorities

“We have so many millions of acres up here and you never know, we’re very lucky in the State of Maine where we don’t have the droughts like the western states but it’s still possible we had a record breaking year just in 2020″

In 2020, 1150 wildfires contributed to 1030 acres burned across the state, a startling number Hartman says can be reduced through vigilance.

“We ask anybody that’s going to be doing any burning, that’s brush, debris burning, campfires, have a charged garden hose, hand tools around, just be prepared for anything that could happen.”

And Hartman says if you see a fire or signs of a fire, and you’re unsure whether it’s under control or not, to dial 911, they’ll be able to look up if a burn permit is active in that area, and send Forest Rangers or the nearest Fire Department to investigate. And if a Forest Ranger comes to check out your burn, don’t assume you’re in trouble, Hartman says they are just doing their job.

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