Illegal debris burning cited in Kings, Ford

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some property owners demolishing flood-damaged homes in the Ford Subdivision and Kings are illegally burning construction debris, Vicksburg Fire Chief Charles Atkins said.

Atkins told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday that firefighters over the past few months have responded to several calls in the two areas in north Vicksburg about people burning debris from the demolished homes instead of taking it to a landfill. He said the illegal burning is limited to a few people, but gave no names.

The city’s burn ordinance requires permits from the fire department to be issued before burning in the city, fire investigator/inspector Leslie Sanders said. Burning is restricted to limbs and brush and land-clearing. Burning building materials, she said, is prohibited.

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She said illegal burning carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail and few permits have been issued in Kings and Ford.

“Those areas are pretty clear (of brush),” she said. “We know what they’re burning and they know. They’re demolishing homes and getting rid of the material any way they can.”

Homes in Ford and Kings were damaged in the spring 2011 flood, when the Mississippi River reached 57.1 feet, or 14.1 feet above flood stage. The city has issued demolition permits to 28 property owners in the area.

The area also has been a target for illegal dumping. Building materials have been dumped in nearby wooded areas or mixed with piles of tree limbs and branches placed in front of homes for collection.

Atkins said Tuesday that most of the trash fires are small, but said three large ones have occurred over the past four weeks.

The most recent was one Saturday night in which a home at 114 Williams St. was destroyed. Arson is suspected in the fire, which remains under investigation, Sanders said Tuesday.

She said firefighters on April 20 responded to an illegal fire at 199 Williams St., which damaged a neighboring house.

“They were burning building materials in a barrel, and the barrel was too close to the other house,” she said.

She said firefighters found the property owner burning rubbish and tires at 3831 N. Washington St.

Five days later, firefighters responded to an illegal fire at 3831 N. Washington St.

No permits had been issued, she said.

“The burn permit is good for one day,” Atkins said. “So if you have five piles of rubbish, don’t think you can burn all month. You’ll need a separate permit for each day.”