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Open burning, fireworks ban expected Tuesday in Pasco

Fire Rescue workers John Esposito, left, and David Bear douse hot spots in the woods off Beacon Square Drive in Holiday on Thursday after a brush fire threatened homes.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Fire Rescue workers John Esposito, left, and David Bear douse hot spots in the woods off Beacon Square Drive in Holiday on Thursday after a brush fire threatened homes.

County Commissioners are expected Tuesday to enact a ban on open burning and lighting fireworks in Pasco County because of the drought.

The proposed emergency order comes after brush fires this week in Holiday and San Antonio scorched more than 340 acres combined — early signs the state faces a dire wildfire season, according to forestry and Pasco Fire Rescue officials.

The ban would mean campfires, yard waste burning and bonfires are not allowed, assistant chief Mike Ciccarello said Friday. People and companies with state permits for burning and using fireworks, such as farmers shooing birds from their crops, would be exempt, however.

Violations would carry a fine of up to $500.

Ciccarello said officials were considering the emergency order even before this week's fires. The drought made conditions dry enough several weeks ago to warrant a ban on open burning, but rain delayed the need until now, he said.

"It was already added to the agenda. We've been watching the drought conditions," Ciccarello said.

The Florida Division of Forestry reported the wildfire risk remained high Friday. Hernando County issued a burn ban Feb. 11, and Citrus County did so in January.

The Pasco County Commission meeting begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Dade City.

Open burning, fireworks ban expected Tuesday in Pasco 02/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 6:10pm]
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