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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office


Des Moines, IOWA --- As dry conditions persist this Fall, the State Fire Marshal urges safety for citizens engaging in burning leaves and yard waste. Yard fires, no matter how small require vigilance and a commitment to safety. In fact two people died in October from injuries sustained while attending to burning piles of leaves.

State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds said, "Conditions may seem ideal to burn your yard waste, but the extended periods without rain has led to several rapidly developing fires, keeping fire departments busy this fall. I strongly urge citizens to take safety precautions when burning outside, because it's too late when the fire gets out of hand."

The State Fire Marshal offers these tips when burning outside:

  • Obey local ordinances. Many cities do not permit outside burning.
  • Check with your local fire department to find out if there is a burn ban in effect when extremely dry conditions are present.
  • Never throw flammable liquids onto a fire.
  • Clear debris around areas that are being burned to avoid fire spreading to unintended locations. Spray water around the outside of leaf piles to avoid fire spreading to other areas.
  • If your clothing catches on fire, you're never too old to stop, drop, and roll to smother the flames. Do not run while on fire.
  • Keep water nearby to quickly douse flames that grow too rapidly. A garden hose is recommended.
  • Never burn in windy conditions. If the wind picks up after you start burning, quickly extinguish flames and chose a different day to finish burning.
  • Consider using leaves as mulch for gardens to avoid unneeded fires.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for assistance from neighbors prior to burning leaves.
  • Wear 100% cotton clothing with long sleeves and avoid wearing nylon clothes around fire.

These safety tips will minimize your risks when burning dry leaves and other materials during this dry time of the year.


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