With lots of branches and broken trees left lying around on properties throughout the Somerset Hills, some people inevitably will try to get rid of some of that wooded debris by burning it in home fireplaces.
Bernards Township Fire Official Janet Lake issued precautions for home fireplaces and other fire prevention requirements for winter, with some reminders especially applicable after Hurricane Sandy.
Most people will try to get rid of storm-damaged trees and branches through a private company, Lake said. "Waiting for a company with a chipper is the best option," she said. Other property owners may have room will put some wood and brush in wooded area, if it is available.
However, she stressed that people not burn evergreen branches in a home fireplace. "They burn too hot, especially for fireplaces with a metal chimney," she said.
Evergreen branches are very sappy, Lake added. "They pop and snap with more of a chance of a chimney fire or embers getting out of the fire box," she said.
Clean and cutup hardwood with the leaves removed is fine to burn, Lake advised.
Asked to offer precautions for other post-Sandy fire hazards, Liberty Corner Fire Co. Chief Marc Friedman said that gasoline — some of which may be left after residents stored up during the gas shortage — should be stored only in proper gasoline containers.
Empty fuel from generators before storing
Basking Ridge Fire Co.'s public information officer, Jack McGrath said he also would suggest to residents who had used generators during the storm that they should empty the fuel in the tanks before storing them in a shed or garage.
Lake issued other wanings:
- Open burning of trees or debris from the storm is not allowed by the Bernards Township Fire Official, U.S. Forest Fire Service or N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.
- Have fireplaces inspected for winter use. A fireplace should be repaired or cleaned if the inspection finds these things need to be done.
- During the holidays put gift wrapping paper in the trash, and do not burn it in the fireplace."The ink burns extremely hot and will cause any creosote stuck to the sides of the chimney to catch fire," Lake said.
- Ashes from fireplaces should be stored in a metal can away from the dwelling and covered with water for 24 hours before disposal. Never place ashes in cardboard boxes or paper bags and don’t spread them on the ground near your house. The outside air can fan them back into flames. Do not vacuum your fireplace.
- Keep matches and lighters up high out of reach of children and do not leave candles unattended.
- When it snows shovel around and clear the hydrant nearest your home.