For some left a big pile of yard waste following Monday night’s severe storm, the temptation will be to burn it, rather than haul it off. But burning it is exactly what the Hannibal Fire Department doesn’t want the public to do.
“This freshly-fallen brush, it’s still green and will not burn. It just smolders and puts off a lot of smoke,” said Sean Hampton, assistant fire chief.
That could lead to neighborhood friction in some parts of town.
“It’s just more of an irritant for people with their houses open due to a lack of power at this time,” said Hampton.
Such burning calls have already been received from various parts of the community.
“We’ve seen some people trying to burn. We’ve been called to open burning and have been trying to caution them that we’ve got a burn ban in place,” said Hampton, noting the city-wide ban went into effect late Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not a punitive thing. We’re issuing warnings first and trying to stop them from burning until we lift the ban.”
Firefighters called out have found residents willing to listen.
“Once we explained it to them, they understand and have been cooperative with us. We don’t anticipate any problems,” said Hampton. “Most people, once they try to light this green brush they’re seeing it’s not burning, it’s smoldering.”
Some people are wanting to burn the wood because they don’t have a means to haul it to a city-provided drop site. But Hampton noted that in weeks ahead Street Department personnel will making their way through the city and picking up storm debris left at curbs.
Hampton is hopeful that making the public aware of the burn ban will reduce the number of open burning calls the department receives.
“They add to the call load with our resources spread thin right now,” said the assistant chief. “This will free up resources for more priority calls.”
While a burn ban has been issued, it shouldn’t hinder holiday weekend cookouts.
“We will not impact recreational fires, those that are used for cooking purposes and are not posing a hazard or problem,” said Hampton. “This is for the burning of brush piles and yard waste only right now.”