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KDHE, Ellis Co. discuss burning

12/27/2012

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Staff from Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Ellis County Rural Fire Department, concerned with illegal burning within the county, met Wednesday morning to discuss state burning guidelines.

Any open burning is subject to Ellis County and KDHE approval, said Dan Wells, district environmental administrator for KDHE. County approval is required for burning tree branches, grass, vegetation, stubble, hay, bonfires and cooking pits.

Unauthorized burning of items such as appliances, furniture, mattresses, household items, old lumber, metal, bicycle, fuel filters, air filters and oil filters has been discovered within Ellis County. Unapproved burning is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 a day.

"Recently, there's been some instances where the individual received approval from the county to burn but did not have KDHE approval," Wells said. "Upon our investigation, they were burning materials illegally."

Rural Fire Chief Dick Klaus said KDHE approval is necessary before a resident burns a structure or uses a burn pit.

Approval can be sought at the Hays KDHE office, 2301 E. 13th, or call (785) 625-5663.

The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

After receiving a KDHE burn permit number, the resident also must call for county approval.

"We're going to make sure they have a way of putting out the fire, also," Klaus said. "And that the wind speed is under 15 miles per hour.

"As far as for tree and brush piles, individual's gardens and any kind of agricultural CRP, pasture, bales whatever ... dispatch can give the OK on that."

Items not approved by KDHE for burning must be disposed of at a permitted landfill, Wells said. The burning of unauthorized materials can compromise air quality.

"It can increase ozone and increase particulate matter into the atmosphere," Wells said. "If it gets bad enough, it could violate the federal and state air quality standards for particulate matter."