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Sheriff refers burning complaints to state

YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—The state put into place a new ban on residential burning, Oct. 14.
“This regulation quite frankly caught us by surprise,” said Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the new regulation prohibits burning all trash. The existing incinerator rule already prohibited burning household trash in wood stoves, fireplaces, and outdoor wood boilers. Now the Yates County Sheriff’s Department is dealing with how to enforce the changes.
Spike said because it is the state’s regulation, he would prefer the DEC to enforce it. He said the department has been referring complaints about open burning to the DEC. However, he said if no DEC officer can respond, the sheriff will send someone to investigate a complaint.  Schuyler Undersheriff Breck Spaulding said the department will be referring complaints to the DEC if possible.  He said Schuyler would be taking a similar stance to Yates County.
“We’ve got more than enough to do,” Spike said.
Spike said the officer, not necessarily with the sheriff’s department, can issue a warning if the smoke is a public nuisance call in a fire department if needed. He said that since Oct. 14, the sheriff’s department has investigated six complaints about open burning.
However, Spike said most of the calls the department has received have been about what the new regulation allows. He explained there are some agricultural exceptions to the law. According to the DEC, the exemptions to the no burning regulation include:
• Campfires less than three feet in height and four feet in length, width or diameter are allowed.
• Small cooking fires are allowed.
• Fires cannot be left unattended and must be fully extinguished.
• Only charcoal or clean, dry, untreated or unpainted wood can be burned.
• Ceremonial or celebratory bonfires are allowed.
The DEC said calls about environmental law violations can be made to 1-800-847-7334.

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