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Few restrictions on open burning in Baraboo, but new online tool helps residents decide if safe

November 26, 2018

Area residents who wish to dispose of something by burning it -- such as the many leaves covering their yards -- should use a new online tool from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources before they light the fire.

The interactive tool “Can I burn?” asks users what they would be burning, where the materials come from and what their intent is. Then it gives either a yea or nay on whether open burning may be an option and offers other instructions.

According to a DNR news release, the agency intends the tool to help Wisconsin residents determine whether open burning is safe and know if they need permits, as well as how to obtain approval.

While state regulations often prohibit open burning, some materials, such as clean wood and yard waste, can be allowed. Even if burning is allowed, residents may need a DNR wildfire prevention burn permit, the release stated.

Baraboo allows two types of outdoor open burning, according to the city’s website. The first, which includes dry grass, dry leaves, brush and untreated, unpainted wood, is only allowed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on even-numbered days. While no permit is required, there are other restrictions based on the location and size of the fire, as well as wind speed.

Fire pits or cooking fires using dry, untreated and unpainted wood comprise the second category of allowed burning. There are no time restrictions and no permits required for such burning, but other rules determine where and how the fires should be attended.

Baraboo residents are not allowed to burn garbage, recyclable paper products or cardboard, painted wood or anything with rubber or plastic on it. Burning also can’t smell so noxious that it’s “repulsive to the physical senses of ordinary persons,” according to city code. Bonfires require a permit from the fire department.

Another DNR resource shows the current risk of fires in each county. As of Sunday, Sauk County -- and the rest of Wisconsin -- was rated at a low danger of fire.

To find the “Can I burn?” tool, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “burn.”

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