Learn Before You Burn

Before you light that bonfire, get out the tape measure.

State regulations forbid building a fire that is larger than 27 cubic feet. That’s three feet tall, by three feet wide and three feet deep.

But don’t give up the s’mores. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control does not throw cold water on most recreational blazes. DNREC permits:

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• Barbecue grills, fireplaces and cooking fires

• Campfires, fire pits and chimeneas

• Ceremonial bonfires conducted by Native American tribes, schools or other recognized organizations, such as the Boy Scouts

DNREC suggests keeping a garden hose at the ready whenever you light an outdoor fire. Don’t even think about burning trash in a big metal barrel. The practice has been illegal since 1968.

And never set a match to leaves. Burning plant matter sends irritating particulates into the air, which greatly increase the risk of respiratory infections. Leaves also can emit up to seven carcinogens.

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In Delaware, burning leaves has been banned since 1995. (If you don’t want to rake and bag, DNREC suggests shredding your leaves to make compost.)

Finally, be considerate of your neighbors. If anyone complains about the smoke produced by your fire, regulations say you have to put it out immediately.

Any questions? Call DNREC at 739-9204 and ask for specialist Gerald Mood.

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