Recently there have been five fires within a seven-day period in Bear Lake County. Only some of the people who set the fires had permits to do so. According to Mark Parker, Fire Chief, those who had permits burned material larger than they could control or safely handle. One fire starter had a burn permit, thought the fire was extinguished, but the fire started up again the next day. One of the fires was a three-acre fire and another a 105-acre fire. The 105-acre fire jumped the railroad tracks and crossed Highway 30. One fire was set in a barrel, but the person starting it left it burning and went inside to take a nap. This fire crossed a field and burned down an old shed. He woke up to smoke which could easily have entered his house.
People are trying to burn ditch fires, willow fires, and other types of fires without the proper equipment to put them out. It is very dry, and the afternoon breezes come up while they are poorly equipped to handle the fires.
Bear Lake County Fire Ordinance Nos. 2001-01 and 2019-5 require a burn permit year round for open burning regardless of snow cover for ALL fires except recreational fires two feet in height and three feet in diameter. Most fires will fall under just a burn permit with no additional approval needed. Larger fires or questionable fires will be referred to the Fire Department for approval. Additional safety measures could be required for permit issuance (IFC307.2). During a period of high fire danger, burn permits will not be issued (IFC 307.1.1).
Open burning permits are valid for the calendar day of issuance only.
No solid waste (garbage) generated from homes, businesses, or farms may be burned — only natural materials.
Most importantly, every burn event needs to be constantly attended by the permit holder or their competent representative and have an adequate means and manpower for extinguishment. The fire shall be completely extinguished before leaving the site.
To obtain a burn permit in Bear Lake County, call Bear Lake County Dispatch at 208-945-2121, opt #1. You will be required to provide your name, phone number, and location, type, and size of materials to be burned. There is no fee for a burn permit.
There is a misconception that if you obtain a burn permit you are released from liability. You are not. If you “throw a match,” you are 100 percent liable for all costs incurred because of the burn, including, but not limited to, fire suppression, citations, and applicable fees. The Fire Department is beginning to cite people.
Chief Parker also wants to let people know that in the State of Idaho, the Fire Department is the only entity that can burn down a structure. One has to obtain EPA and DEQ approval for this, and it is a lengthy process. If it is of training value to burn a building, the Fire Department will look at it, which is what they will be doing with a building in the near future.
Please be careful when setting fires. People’s lives are priceless and property is expensive and difficult to replace. Please take care when attempting to set a fire and when watching and maintaining a fire. Make sure they are 100 percent extinguished and never leave one unattended. Very importantly, obtain the required permits before setting a fire, and remember you are liable for any costs incurred if a fire becomes out of control.
If you have any questions not answered here, call the Fire Department and ask before you act.