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DEQ patrols people violating no burn law

Neighbor burning wood? DEQ wants you to turn them in. (Photo: RaeAnn Christensen, KUTV)

With no end in sight to the inversion there is a mandatory no burn ban in effect, but is anybody actually enforcing that ban?

Chad Gilgen is an Environmental Scientist with the Department of Environmental Quality or DEQ for the State of Utah. He starts his nightly patrols looking for people violating the no burn law, “This was based on a call on from someone who lives nearby,” he said. “If they are burning, then we'll get a picture and document it.”

In 2017, DEQ decided to put the heat on those choosing to violate on no burn days, fines skyrocketed from $25 to $150 and no warnings are issued. Patrols used to be during business hours during the day, now DEQ and the Department of Health are also going out on evenings and weekends because that is times people are more likely to burn.

“No-burn" season is from November to the end of February along the Wasatch Front, those with DEQ said our inversions are so strong we have to do what we can to help weaken them and wood smoke is an easy fix. Jared James, is an Environmental Scientist with DEQ, “Wood smoke does have a surprisingly high effect as well it's much easier to cut than cars,” he said. Costing more to heat your home, but priceless when you can breath clean air. “It's part of our citizen responsibility to be a good neighbor,” James said.

There is one exemption for people who use wood burning as a sole source to heat their homes. They will not be ticketed, but you do need to be registered,

Per Utah code R307-302-3: "A person using a solid fuel burning device as a sole source of heat must register with the director in order to be exempt during mandatory no-burn periods."

You can go to https://deq.utah.gov/ for more information. If you see someone burning on a no-burn day, you can go to www.airquality.utah.gov, or call (801) 536-4000.

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