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Your Tewksbury Today

Done Your Burning Yet? Time Is Running Out

Apr 22, 2015 04:15PM ● By Bill Gilman
If you haven't done your backyard brush burning for the season, you don't have much time left to get it done.
The open burning season in Tewksbury ends May 1, according to Deputy Fire Chief Al Vasas. And despite the fact that the season has been, for all practical purposes, greatly shortened by by the lingering effects of an historically harsh winter, it won't be extended.
"Burning permits are still available at the Center Station for $10 and are good through the remainder of the (burning) season," said Vasas. "The permits are good for burning sticks, cornstalks, garden debris, things like that. The permits are NOT intended for things like fences, stumps, leaves, trash, things like that."
In a typical year, about 200 permits are sold. Thus far, this season, only 165 have been sold, according to Vasas.
There is a telephone number on the permit that you must call in the morning on the day you plan to burn. A recorded message will tell you if burning is permitted that day, depending on the weather. When prompted by the message, you must leave your name, address and telephone number, letting the Fire Department know you'll be burning.
"It's very important to call first before you burn," said Vasas. "If the air is dry and windy, there's a chance we won't be allowing burning. Those are the conditions when a backyard burn can spread and start a brush fire."
Dry and windy were the conditions two weeks ago, when embers from a passing Pam-Am freight train ignited debris and railroad ties along the side of the tracks, sparking brush fires in Tewksbury and Andover.
According to Vasas, there are certain rules residents need to follow when they burn, most of which are common sense. All fires should be at least 50 feet from any structure, the burn should be constantly attended and a hose with full water pressure should be kept close at hand just in case.
"The most common problem is people not attending the fire constantly," said Vasas. "If you leave it alone, you can go in your house and come back out in five minutes and your shed could be gone."


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