Amador and El Dorado County residents planning to burn debris on their property are reminded that residential burn permits will be required beginning Wednesday.
The permits are issued to the public free of charge and are valid for three years from the date of issuance. They allow for burning of dry vegetation -- not household trash -- that originates on the landowner's property, according to a news release from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Amador-El Dorado Unit. The permits are available at most of the area's staffed fire stations.
Cal Fire officials remind residents that the use of burn barrels is no longer legal in Amador and El Dorado counties.
They also urge property owners to use caution when burning debris.
"In 2012, 23 percent of all wildfires in the Amador-El Dorado Unit of Cal Fire were caused by residential debris burning," Unit Chief Kelly Keenan said in a written statement. " This amounted to 47 fires and 52 acres burned. Escaped debris burning continues to be our No. 1 cause of wildland fires in Amador and El Dorado counties."
To reduce risks, fire officials offer several safety tips:
Make sure debris piles are no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet in size.
Scrape a 10-foot-wide ring around each debris pile down to bare dirt.
Have a shovel and water supply, in the form of a charged hose, close by to use in the event the fire escapes the pile.
Make sure an adult is in attendance until the pile is completely extinguished.
Burning is allowed only on "permissive burn days." Residents are advised to call their local air quality management district immediately before lighting a debris pile. In Amador County, call (209) 223-6246; El Dorado County, (530) 621-5897 or (866) 621-5897; the Lake Tahoe area of El Dorado County, (530) 621-5842 or (888) 332-2876; Alpine County, (916) 445-0745.