By Eric Tichy
Think twice before lighting that bonfire within the city of Jamestown. City police and firefighters are ready to enforce a ban on open fires, which tend to become more common as weather turns warmer.
"It is a city code violation, and we will be out there enforcing it," Capt. Robert Samuelson of the Jamestown Police Department said Monday. "I could sit here all day long and say why you shouldn't have a fire.
"As we get into summer we get these types of calls all the time, especially at night when a lot of people sit around a bonfire. There is just too much danger there."
City fire crews already have responded to at least two reports of illegal burns since Sunday. The city prohibits open fires as well as the burning of refuse, garbage or rubbish.
Said Sam Salemme, battalion chief for the Jamestown Fire Department, "We have no idea what is burning when we respond to these calls. And people forget, there's also a lot of smoke and embers that become dangerous and a nuisance to your neighbors."
Salemme estimates the city fire department responds to 60-100 calls a year for illegal burns.
City code does allow open fires for cooking; however, the fire must be confined to a grill or barbecue pit, according to Chapter 142 of the city code. Open burns also are permitted for a publicly sponsored celebration or school function, but both require written permission by the deputy fire chief.
Police, though, warn open fires can quickly get out of control.
"With the close proximity of houses here in the city, there are just too many dangers," Samuelson said. "There can be a lot of smoke as a result and it can create nuisances for neighbors."
Samuelson said city police and firefighters will ask residents to extinguish any illegal burn. The fire department will assist if the fire is unmanageable.
"It is a violation, and we will enforce it," Samuelson said, noting repeat offenders are likely to face charges and fines.