Officials urge residents to use caution when burning leaves

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Sure, the leaves look pretty now.

But most homeowners will tell you the thought of raking those pretty leaves off the ground later takes away some of the aesthetic appreciation. Soon, dry, brown leaves will be everywhere. You'll rake them in nice neat piles only to have the gusty, fall wind scatter them again.

Their neighbors may not like it, but for those who want to get rid of the leaves as soon as possible, burning is legal in Cape Girardeau and nearby towns.

Area safety officials say there are certain guidelines that should be followed and they differ slightly from town to town.

In Cape Girardeau, for instance, leaf burning can only take place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"Most people are coming home from work at four and nobody likes to have the foul air when they're trying to eat supper," said Mike Morgan, the fire marshal with the Cape Girardeau Fire Department. "On cool nights, the smoke can hang low and really create a stink."

Meanwhile, in Jackson, burning can take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., fire chief Brad Golden said. In Scott City, chief Jay Cassout said the hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In all three locations, the fire departments require that residents notify them before burning leaves.

"Contact us and we'll be glad to take a look at it," Golden said. "We need to know, especially if you're going to burn close to one of the major highways. People see it and call it in as a major type of fire."

All three fire chiefs said residents should have a water hose nearby when they burn, the fire should not be left unattended and that no burning should be done in windy weather.

Second-hand smoke

Legal or not, burning leaves is not appreciated by everyone.

Morgan said the fire department gets complaints about the smoke.

"Our biggest problem is the odor," he said.

Amelia Essman, who lives on Brookwood Drive in one of the most wooded areas in Cape Girardeau said she doesn't like the burning.

"It does bother me," she said as she was leaving Dennis Scivally Park with her two children. "I wish they wouldn't do it. It's harder to play outside with your kids when there's a lot of smoke in the air."

Gene Loftis, who also lives on Brookwood Drive said it doesn't bother him.

"During the fall, it's hard to get everything picked up," he said. "It's not a problem with me. A few people around burn, but most put their leaves out on the curb and the city picks them up."

Cape Girardeau offers a fall leaf program where it offers free curbside leave pick-up. That program begins Nov. 18 in the southeast section of the city and runs on certain days until Dec. 13.

Cape Girardeau also has a compost holding area located on Third Street. It will be open for free drop-off of leaves until Dec. 13. It is open from noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

335-6611, extension 127


Cape Girardeau

Burning hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Must be burning on own property, not on streets.

Burns should occur at least 25 feet away from a brick structure, 50 feet away from wood-structured house.

Proper authorization required. Call the fire department at 334-3211.

Burning material should be limited to 5-foot by 5-foot pile.


Burning hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Must be burning on own property, not on streets.

Piles should not be more than 500 cubic feet.

Proper authorization required. Call the fire department at 243-1010.

Burning should occur at least 50 feet from any ignitable material.

Scott City

Burning hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the end of daylight savings time. Then, all burning is prohibited after 5 p.m.

Can only burn material that originates on the property.

Proper authorization required. Call the fire department at 264-2126.

Burning should occur at least 50 feet from ignitable material.


Must burn on own property, with the exception of the area between the sidewalk and the street.

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