New burn permits required starting next month

As winter rolls reluctantly into spring, residents of the Kenai Peninsula have another item to add to their to do list: get an updated burn permit.

The Alaska Division of Forestry requires permits for 2017 beginning April 1. Residents must get their new permit, read it and sign it before they are able to burn anything this year, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Fire Prevention Officer Dan Govoni with the division’s Kenai-Kodiak Area office in Soldotna said there have been no changes to the burn permits since last year. They will be available at several locations across the peninsula, he said, as well as online. Once residents have their new permit, there’s one more step before they can actually burn anything. Residents are required to call the phone number on the permit prior to any burn they are planning.

“It’s important to call each day so that you know what the burning conditions are,” Govoni said.

Govoni said it’s important that permit holders not be lulled into a false sense of security by this winter’s traditional pattern of plentiful snow and cold temperatures.

“We have a lot of snow this season, and it’s probably not going to be going away too soon,” he said.

Snow or no snow, Govoni said the permits are required by state law and those who plan to burn this spring still need to follow the rules. Kenai Fire Marshal Tommy Carver said the city’s fire department relies on people calling in before they burn to keep track of active permits and potential planned burns.

“When you live inside the city, if people see smoke coming from a yard they automatically call 911, which is a great thing,” he said.

Carver explained that the Kenai Fire Department will get several calls about what turns out to often be a private, planned burn. When those people who plan to burn call in ahead of time, the department is able to account for those burns and has a better idea of which are intentional.

Burn permits are required year-round within city limits, with new permits for the year coming out in January. Carver said people planning to burn can go to the Kenai Fire Department at any point in the year to get an up-to-date permit.

One change to Kenai’s burn permits this year is the inclusion of burn barrels.

“We’ve never allowed burn barrels in the past,” Carver said.

Kenai residents will still not be able to burn household trash, he said, and should go to the Division of Forestry website for detailed instructions and rules when it comes to burn barrels. New permits that include the barrels should be out in a few weeks, Carver said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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