Brush fires, leaf burn ban disputes continue

Local fire departments continued to respond to uncontrolled brush fires this weekend, including a fire in Osceola that damaged a sailboat and other property.

"Somebody was burning leaves and the wind got at it and caught the rest of the yard," said Osceola Fire Chief Wally Tochman. "It and kind of spread along the houses back here."

It happened around 4 p.m. Saturday and responders were able to put it out quickly.

But Tochman said the person who set the fire was fined for not doing it safely.

"I mean on a windy day like this I wouldn't try to do any burning," he said. "But people feel like they need to burn their leaves now."

That's certainly true of many St. Joseph County Residents, but the current leaf burn ban is putting a kink in many residents' maintenance schedules.

"It's very difficult to tackle this amount of leaves in the yard we have and put them somewhere where they're not going to blow across the road," said one St. Joe County resident. "I've burned every year and probably will continue to."

Another St. Joe County resident echoed the same frustrations. She is also continuing to burn against the ban.

'If you come and you look and you see they're not big piles they're small. I'm out here, I'm not leaving," the homeowner told NewsCenter16. "I have no neighbors across the street, the smoke isn't going in anybody's houses. So what harm am I doing? This is my house."

Many also had an issue with there being only two amnesty periods for burning each year.

"It doesn't work because the weather doesn't allow it to work," one resident said. "So many different types of trees with falling leaves at different times in the fall -- you cannot have just one clean up. The man power it would take for me to put all the leaves in one pile and bag them it would be ridiculous."

The leaf burning ban was passed last fall.

No word yet on when the upcoming leaf burning amnesty week will be this spring.

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