Brush fires plague St. Joe Co. despite ban

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- St. Joseph County has responded to more than 20 leaf and brush fires in the last two weeks, despite the current ban on leaf burning in the county.

"With it being dry from the winter, any leaf or trash fire with a little wind will spread rapidly," warned Clay Fire Battalion Chief Ron Brentlinger.

A county ordinance passed this fall bans leaf burning for all but two weeks of the year -- once in the spring and once in the fall.

But many St. Joe County residents still seem to be unaware.

"I was told that I could actually burn [leaves] in the back," said Andrew Welle, who recently bought a house in St. Joe County. "I was unaware that that was not the case."

St. Joe County Resident Dale Fietzek says he has no choice but to burn the leaves that continue to pile up on his lawn.

"Ordinarily, we wouldn't have had to do this," Fietzek said. "But that's what happened to them with their leaf pick up, too. Nobody dreamed that it would last so long and it did."

The amnesty leaf burning week for the spring has not yet been determined. But when it is announced, officials warn that leaves should only be burned in containers and should not be burned on windy days.

Spring leaf collection begins Friday, April 18th for St. Joe County residents.

Crews will first finish the areas of Clay and Harris Townships, which had not been collected when the program was suspended in the winter because of weather issues.

Once collection crews get through Clay and Harris, they'll move onto all other townships.

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