Open burning regulations and requirement restrictions

LEWISTON, ID - As fires continue to spread in areas around the Northwest, open and controlled burning has been a topic of discussion throughout the region.

Just yesterday, the Asotin County Commissioners authorized a fire ban for all of unincorporated Asotin County, which means no open fires or flames for the rest of the season.

Asotin County Fire District One Fire Chief Noel Hardin said this is something the county does every year around this time to ensure the county is taking the steps necessary to ensure the safety of the people.

"This time of year, again with the heat, as were standing here there's a breeze blowing, we have heat, dry fuels," said Hardin. "From our perspective, burning this time of year, can be dangerous for us, if it gets of control."

The unincorporated fire ban restricts controlled or prescribed burning, also known as hazard reduction burning. Open burning is restricted in Nez Perce County except during the annual open period which extends from April 1st through the 31st.

Any other burning in Nez Perce County Reservation requires a Air Quality, year round, and applies to all backyard, agricultural and forestry burns.

"Really each county needs to determine at what level they want to put a ban in place," said Hardin. "There are certain times that agriculture personnel need to burn fields at certain times. It may be better at this time of year, than later in the year, when it is maybe a little cooler."

The City of Lewiston also restricts against any type of burning after the Lewis-Clark Air Quality Advisory Commission informed the city nearly a decade ago that they would be best advised to do so.

"It's really a quality of life issue, as it was when the ordinance past in 2000," said Lewiston Fire Department Fire Marshal Lind Steputat. "It was based on the quality of life here in Lewiston and the Valley to make sure that everyone had fresh air to breath."

According to fire officials, the combination of heat, humidity and wind combined, can be very dangerous. Even a small flame can create a threatening fire in a matter of seconds.

"We get to a critical point where burning becomes very dangerous as far as the potential for fire growth," said Hardin.

"We're sending out firefighters out there on some of these calls where folks are maybe burning a pile of wood or branches," said Steputat. "We're putting our folks at risk to get there and we're putting the public at risk when they're going out there on that call."

Burning without a permit and/or burning houses or building for disposal is illegal and fines can be nearly $38,000 per day.

It's important to note that barbeques, ceremonies, fireplaces and firefighter training are allowed within the city of Lewiston.