Calfire to require burn permits

A Calfire plane drops a load of fire retardant on an October fire. File photo by Nick Lovejoy

San Benito County residents planning to burn branches or leaves in areas under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will need a permit to do so, starting this month.
The burn permit, which took effect May 1, will be required for any outdoor open burn in areas of state or local responsibility under contract with Calfire in the counties of San Benito or Monterey, according to a press release from the department.
To date, Calfire has responded to 17 vegetation fires in San Benito and Monterey counties, according to the press release from Calfire. Half of San Benito and Monterey counties are still classified as in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, while the remaining areas qualify as “severe” or “moderate.”
While the past few months have brought rains that approach average levels, water resources are still low and the showers have increased the amount of flammable vegetation, according to the press release.
“The recent vegetation fires in San Benito and Monterey Counties are stark reminders of the importance of defensible space,” said Brennan Blue, the unit chief of Calfire San Benito-Monterey, in a press release. “Please protect your life and property, as well as the lives of firefighters, by creating and maintaining a minimum of 100 feet defensible space.”
Residential outdoor, agriculture, land management, fire training and other industrial-type burning may occur if a Calfire official inspects the burn site and issues a permit, according to the press release.
Calfire recommends clearing dead vegetation in a 100 feet range of structures; finding alternative ways to dispose of landscape debris; and landscaping with plants that are fire resistant, drought tolerant and native.
Individuals conducting an open burn must keep the size within permit requirements, according to the press release. The permits require adult supervision of the fire, at least 10 feet of bare mineral soil around the fire, adequate control resources such as tools or water, burning on days declared by the Monterey Bay Air Resources District and not burning on a windy days. Any person with a burn permit should also check with the Monterey Bay Air Resources District for additional requirements by visiting their website:, or calling (831) 647-9411.

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