Lunenburg’s burning laws are changing. Violators will now be fined

Burning laws in Lunenburg County are going through a bit of a change. An ordinance regulating “the making of fires” adopted by supervisors on March 14 will allow county staff to issue burn bans during extremely dry conditions and issue fines for violators.  

“The county needed an ordinance to allow for the ease of enacting a county-wide burn ban in cases of extreme fire risk/danger,” Lunenburg Administrator Tracy Gee said. “This ordinance allows the emergency manager and/or board chair to enact a burn ban as necessary without waiting for the full board to meet.” 

That was a problem earlier this year, when burn bans popped up across the region. Lunenburg was one of the last counties to react, issuing a ban weeks after every other county. The need for a ban has popped up again over the last two weeks due to extremely dry conditions. Under the new ordinance, things are very clear as to what is and isn’t allowed.

“It shall be unlawful, when the forest lands, fields and brushlands of this county have become so dry or parched as to create an extraordinary fire hazard endangering lives and property, for any person to burn leaves, grass brush, debris or materials of any type therein or to ignite or maintain any open fire nearer than 300 feet from any such forest lands, fields or brushlands,” the ordinance states. 

The ordinance makes a violation of a burn ban a Class 3 misdemeanor, which can carry a fine of up to $500. 

“Lunenburg County public safety professionals and fire protection providers can utilize the ordinance to enforce public safety,” Gee said. 

Some exceptions to burning laws

There are exceptions to a burn ban that allows safety flares to be used without a special permit. Other exemptions that would require a permit include campfires, outdoor fires for food preparation, burning with a commercial incinerator and the open burning of land clearing — brush stumps and other vegetative matter.