By: Sutton StokesMarch 2, 2022

Elkins Allows Year-Round Outdoor Burning

Outdoor fires to dispose of natural materials are now allowed throughout the year on certain days of the week under a new law adopted by Elkins Common Council last month. The law, which only applies inside Elkins city limits, eliminates the use of burning seasons, establishes safety rules, and clarifies what materials may be burned. A permit issued by Elkins Fire Department is required.

The new law allows only the burning of natural, untreated, and unprocessed materials (such as tree trimmings, grass, leaves, and similar garden waste). Fires to dispose of non-natural materials, including but not limited to paper, garbage, and lumber or other construction debris, are prohibited, even if contained in a “burn barrel” or similar container. Fires to clear grasslands or forests are also prohibited.

Outdoor burning to dispose of these natural materials was previously restricted to certain seasons. Under the new law, such materials may now be burned year-round from 5 p.m. Thursdays to 7 a.m. Fridays; from 5 p.m. Fridays to 7 a.m. Saturdays; and from 5 p.m. Saturdays to 7 a.m. Sundays. Fires must be completely extinguished by 7 a.m.

Before such fires are ignited, a permit must have been issued by Elkins Fire Department. A safety zone around the fire must also be cleared of flammable materials. This cleared area must measure at least 10 feet on all sides of the fire at a minimum but, in any event, must be large enough “to ensure that the fire will be contained,” the law states.

Fires must be attended at all times. Permit holders are required to monitor wind and other conditions and must cancel or extinguish fires if those conditions become unsafe. EFD personnel may order the extinguishing of any fire if they determine that it poses a risk to life or property. Permit holders will be held criminally responsible, and may be found liable for damages, if a fire escapes the safety zone and causes damage to others’ lands or properties.

Under the new law, permits are not required for “small fires set for the purpose of food preparation or for providing light or warmth, the area around which has been cleared of flammable materials in the manner described above.” These fires are allowed whenever weather conditions do not make them unsafe.

Outside Elkins city limits, state burning guidelines must be adhered to. These guidelines are identical to those imposed inside city limits, except that burning is restricted to the seasons March 1-May 31 and October 1-December 31.

To apply for an outdoor burning permit, contact the Elkins Fire Department: (304) 636-3433.

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