Burton Fire District warns trash burns can cause serious health risks

Burton Fire District warns trash burns can cause serious health risks

BURTON, S.C. (WTOC) - A trash burn over the weekend has firefighters in Beaufort County reminding residents of a relatively new ordinance.

The Burton Fire Department responded to a call this weekend for a property that was burning the remnants of a demolished mobile home. Now, those residents and their neighbors are saying they had no idea it wasn’t allowed. Burton Firefighters say they aren’t surprised.

“This weekend, we responded to two brush fires. The second one involved the burning of trash,” said Captain Daniel Byrne. “It appeared someone might have been dismantling a mobile home and disposing of the material in the fire - both of which are against Beaufort County burn ordinance.”

When Capt. Daniel Byrne's firefighters put out the remnants of a mobile home that had been demolished and burned to clear a lot, they knew it was something they had dealt with before in Burton, and likely would again.

“This is a problem we’ve been consistently dealing with here at the Burton Fire District,” Capt. Byrne said. “We represent a large unincorporated area of Beaufort County aviary rural area, so people that have lived here, have lived here for years, and they just burn their trash. It’s just what they do, but sciences have shown that that’s a dangerous thing to do.”

An ordinance titled 2011-03 banned the burning of trash, and getting the message out to residents has been difficult.

"We don’t know if this was a deliberate act or if he was just unaware,” Capt. Byrne said. “We educated him as best we could, we did notify DHEC as we are required to do when someone is burning that quantity of trash, and put the fire out.”

The fire department says their main concern is the health of the residents and children of the area. The smoke coming from the waste is burning inorganic material that could contain carcinogens that can cause cancer and other health-related issues.

Danielle Johnson lives next to the lot that was being burned, and she said she and her neighbors had no idea the burn was against the law, but once she learned about it, she understood.

“I mean I have a small child, a six-year-old daughter,” Johnson said. “I don’t want that stuff blowing into my yard to harm my daughter, so I get it, from a parent’s perspective, I get it from a local perspective that this is something, yes we’ve done all our lives, but times are changing and we have to do what’s best for our neighborhood.”

For those who have yard debris they would like to burn, that is legal as long as the burn is on the owner’s property, and no larger than three feet across and two feet high, or about as tall as a picnic table. You can do it between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the first week of March, April, November, and December.

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