OUR OPINION: Smoke signals outdoor burning; be cautious

The smoke you may see — or smell — wafting over some neighborhoods today signals the start of outdoor burning.

Burning leaves, grass clippings and vegetation grown on property is permitted by Jefferson City during daylight hours today through March 15.

But lifting the ban is not synonymous with removing common sense.

Autumn weather largely has been dry and windy.

The consequence is outdoor fires can get out of control — rapidly. Area firefighters have responded to a number of natural cover fires in recent weeks, and fire officials will continue to monitor weather conditions.

Jefferson City Fire Department spokesman Jason Turner advises residents to “burn in small piles and always have some means to extinguish fires quickly, if needed.”

He also reminds that an adult must supervise all fires and a burn barrel is recommended.

Although fires may be controlled, smoke cannot be contained. Residents are encouraged to consider neighbors when burning; complaints may prompt firefighters to extinguish a fire.

Anyone who has burned yard waste knows tending a fire can be a tedious and time-consuming process. It also can be unpleasant when the smoke suddenly shifts direction.

An option is hauling yard waste to the compost site on Southridge Drive, offered at no charge to Jefferson City residents.

Another option is using the mulching feature on newer lawnmowers to grind leaves into nutrients for lawns.

For property owners who cannot — or choose not to — haul or mulch, we encourage consideration and caution when burning outdoors.

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