Recreational fires okay in Winnebago Co., some rules to follow - – Rockford’s News Leader

Recreational fires okay in Winnebago Co., some rules to follow

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In this heat, starting up a fire outdoors is nothing short of risky. In Winnebago County, some burning won't cost you a fine, but if you're not safe, you could end up paying an even greater price.

"We would certainly recommend that people take second thoughts before they start burning." -says Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers.

When things cool off at night, people want to take advantage of outdoor burning. But, depending on where you are in Winnebago County, you might be breaking the law.

"Municipalities have their own rules, I know Rockford certainly does." -adds Sheriff Meyers.

Open burning is illegal in Rockford, but if you're cooking, it's okay, as long as you follow certain rules. One requirement for fire pits is the size.

"They have to be 2x2x2 feet, and you can only use seasoned, dry firewood." -says Rockford Fire Department Prevention Coordinator and Inspector Mark Marinaro.

Also, the fire can burn long enough to heat up food, but it has to be out completely in one or two hours after cooking. In the county, things are a little different. Recreational burning for campfires and picnics is legal in unincorporated areas. However, the Sheriff's Dept. isn't encouraging it. As for fireworks this July 4th, they're illegal, and both departments tell the public to stay away.

"Think about your neighbors when you're shooting off fireworks. They are illegal, the police could come by, and you could be fined." -says Marinaro.

"Ten minutes of fun with a sparkler, and the next thing you know your house is ablaze. When you look at the tradeoff, it's not a positive tradeoff." -adds Sheriff Meyers.

As for other burning, bonfires are legal in Rockford, all you need is a permit, but the Fire Dept. won't be issuing permits until we get some substantial rainfall.

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