The Santa Barbara County Fire Department transitioned from a high fire season readiness to a winter preparedness level on Monday.

With this shift, the ban on permit burning was lifted in state responsibility areas and local responsibility areas within the jurisdiction of the County Fire Department, said Dave Zaniboni, public information officer.

Individuals with a valid burn permit may resume permitted burning in the county, Zaniboni said.

Burn permits may be obtained from any county fire station. For locations, visit www.sbcfire.com and click on "Stations" in the "Emergency Operations" drop-down menu.

Zaniboni noted the permits are issued for burn piles only and are not intended for burning standing vegetation.

Before a permit will be issued, all burn sites and piles will be inspected by county fire officials for compliance with the appropriate permit conditions, and those with permits must contact the fire department prior to starting a burn.

Zaniboni pointed out all permit holders and property owners are required to comply with burn rules and guidelines, and noncompliance could result in a citation as well as repayment of all costs incurred for burns that require fire department assistance.

Burn days are determined by the time of year and the weather, and County Fire works with the County Air Pollution Control District to determine the appropriate burn days.

Burning during the winter months when fuel moisture levels are high and temperatures are low is preferred, and the ability of the smoke to mix with the atmosphere is critical, Zaniboni said.

A high-pressure, stable weather condition is not recommended for burning because the smoke will not dissipate easily, but burning also can be suspended if high winds are predicted, he said.

Burning is never allowed on Sundays or holidays, he added.

To see if a day is a permissive burn day, call 686-8177.

Zaniboni said although fire danger has decreased considerably, it is still possible to have wildfires during the winter months in Southern California, as evidenced by the Thomas fire that grew to become the state’s largest in December.

He said residents are encouraged to continue reducing flammable vegetation around their structures, on their properties and along roads.

For more information about creating defensible space and vegetation removal, see the Ready! Set! Go! Program at www.sbcfire.com.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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