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CalFire: burn while you can

March 3, 2014

Recent rain and snow provided enough precipitation in Inyo County for state fire officials to lift a long-standing burn restriction. The damp conditions aren’t expected to last, so those who need to burn are encouraged to get their burn permits soon. Photo by Mike Gervais

Recent storms that washed through the Owens Valley provided as much as a half inch to three-quarters of an inch of rain on the Owens Valley floor and 36-48 inches of snow in the Mammoth area.
That was enough moisture for state fire officials to lift a burn suspension that has been in place since the beginning of the year.
CalFire Public Information Officer Elizabeth Brown said Monday the burn suspension was lifted in both Inyo and San Bernardino counties as of 6 a.m. Monday morning. The burn suspension in Mono County was lifted in January.
“Given the precipitation received, CalFire has determined that it is safe to lift the burn suspension,” Acting CalFire Unit Chief Rod Bywater said.
Bywater said burn permits are still required and there will be special instructions placed on the permits. Those special requirements include creating extra clearance when residents burn and ensuring that there is a charged water source immediately available and tools are at hand.
“The restrictions are designed to ensure that the watershed and public safety are protected,” Bywater said.
Timothy McClelland, Cal Fire’s San Bernardino unit chief, said that residents can obtain burn permits, but the risk of wildfires did not get washed away with the rain, so those who need to burn should do so while conditions are favorable. “While there is always the potential for a wildland fire to be ignited here in Southern California, we want to allow residents effected to be able to burn and thereby reduce the dead cut piled vegetation that can become a fire hazard in itself.”
Bywater suggested that those who have slash piles or other materials that need burned may want to take advantage of the lift of the burn suspension, as it is not likely to last.
“The drought is not over and the effects of the precipitation will likely be relatively short-lived in the vegetation,” Bywater said. “Burn restrictions will be implemented again as conditions change.”
Due to the potentially severe fire season, each burn permit request in Inyo County will be accompanied with a physical inspection of the property where the burn is to take place.
Owens Valley Division Chief Paul Melendrez noted that, “even with a permit and inspection, it is still the permit holders responsibility to conduct the burn safely and to maintain control of the fire.”
Those planning to burn should also keep in mind that there are special restrictions that remain in effect in Inyo County, including:
1. Use of campfires is restricted to within established campfire facilities located in established campgrounds open to the public.
2. Cooking fires with a valid permit are allowed when no alternate means of cooking is available and requires an on-site inspection prior to the issuance of a permit.
3. Warming fires with a valid permit are allowed and require an on-site inspection prior to the issuance of a permit when weather conditions exist to justify the request.
4. Burn permits issued to property owners for their parcels will have been inspected to ensure adequate clearance and prevention guidelines to reduce the risk of uncontrolled fires.
5. Project burn permits will continue to be reviewed as set forth by the Unit and the local CalFire chief officer.
In addition to these special restrictions, CalFire said it is important for every property owner to maintain a 100-foot “defensible space” clearance around their property to keep flames at bay in case of a wildfire.
Burn permits are available at the CalFire fire station in Independence (760)-878-2258) and at the Owens Valley Conservation Camp north of Bishop (760-387-2686.)
For more information on local weather conditions, visit

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