COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Fall may be a good time to cozy up to a campfire, but it’s also a dangerous time to start a blaze, especially if that blaze includes trash or debris.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is urging Ohioans to take precautions and review outdoor burning regulations this fall.

David Parrot, ODNR Division of Forestry information education administrator said, “The vast majority of all our fires are caused from careless burning of debris.”

In the summer, crops like corn can add 3 to 4 thousand gallons of water a day to the atmosphere in just one acre, increasing humidity. But as the season comes to an end, crops begin to dry out.

John Franks, NWS Wilmington Meteorologist said, “The atmosphere in itself is drying out. So you have drier weather in the fall, trees lose their leaves so you have drier air patterns, drier fuels which are basically anything that falls and hits the ground, something that fire can carry through.”

With the amount of fuel available in the fall, all you need is a spark and some wind to set off a fire.

Franks said, “You add a little wind on top of that you got prime ingredients for the potential for someone’s backyard trash burning to get into a forested area or a cured crop or something and just kind of go to town depending on how strong the wind might be.”

Even if you think you are safe, fires can still occur outside of the burn ban, and never leave a fire unattended.

Parrott said, “Just because you think your fire might be contained, always monitor any fire regardless of what time you are burning it, and number 2 is that make sure your fire is completely out. Many people walk away, there is just some embers. They don’t realize that there is still heat in there and a little bit of wind can rekindle that fire.”

From October through November, most outdoor debris burning is prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in unincorporated areas, ODNR said.

Ohio limits burning in the fall due to the abundance of dry leaves, grass and weeds on the ground, ODNR said. Even a seemingly safe fire can go out of control and catch the dry tinder-like items easily with gusty winds and low humidity.

“A major cause of escaped wildfires in Ohio during the fall is the careless burning of trash and debris,” Fire Program Administrator and Assistant Chief for the ODNR Division of Forestry Greg Guess said. “Unnecessary risk to people and property can be minimized by following safe burning practices and being aware of the burning regulations.”

The ODNR provides the following tips to keep you and your area safe when burning this fall:

  • Know current and future weather conditions and keep tools and water on hand
  • Never leave a debris burn unattended
  • Know local and state regulations and contact your local fire department for additional information
  • Consider safe alternatives for debris disposal like composting
  • When burning, use a 55-gallon drum with a weighted screen lid to create an enclosed incinerator
  • Food waste, dead animals, and materials containing rubber, grease, asphalt, or petroleum should never be burned
  • If a fire does escape control, contact the local fire department immediately

For more information about Ohio burning regulations, visit the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency website here.