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Don’t burn those leaves…

With the arrival of the spring-cleaning season also comes the piles of leaves, branches and other winter debris that has built up in yards, piles that many people will dispose of by burning. But Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson, discourages any open burning. In 2013, the Cabot Fire Department responded to 32 outdoor fires involving vegetation and trash — that number is already past 20 in 2014, he said.

While state law, through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, discourages open burning as a way to dispose of yard waste, it is allowed, Robinson said. Even though open burning can be done, Robinson said he, “highly recommends recycling opportunities, such as composting yard waste as an alternative.”

Also, Robinson cautioned that open burning is limited to only natural vegetation such as leaves, twigs and grass. Cabot follows Arkansas state law that prohibits open burning of trash, he said.

If open burning of yard waste must be used, Robinson said to notify the Fire Department, at 843-7671 or Cabot Dispatch at 843-6526, to report your intent before beginning the burn.

But what to do instead of burning?

Information from Cabot Public Works is that yard waste such as branches, grass trimmings and leaves are part of the pickup service paid for in fees applied to water bills.

Branches must be less than six feet long and less than six inches in diameter, leaves and grass must be bagged — for pickup, it is placed at curbside on normal trash pickup days. The yard waste truck is one of three making pickups each day, the other two are the household trash and recycling collections; all types of waste set out for collection will not be taken at the same time. Also, large numbers of bags may be collected in increments over a few weeks

The Arkansas Forestry Commission offers these safety rules:

•Never leave open fires unattended.

• Before starting, check the weather: humidity should be more than 30 percent; wind gusts should be below 5 mph;

• Place the fire site away from structures, away from other flammable vegetation (including dead grass and leaves), and away from sloped areas.

• Construct a fire break around the burn site, a fire break should be an area 18 to 24 inches wide scraped down to bare soil;

• Place tools such as rakes, shovels, and a reliable water hose close to the burn site.

• If using a burn barrel, place a heavy, wired screen over the top;

•Re-check the burn after the fire is extinguished to ensure it does not re-kindle.

•Never leave open fires unattended.

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