Open Burning in Unincorporated Lake County
The Lake County Board recently voted to amend a temporary emergency ordinance that allows open burning on all properties in unincorporated Lake County from sunrise to sunset only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The ordinance also allows open burning from sunrise to sunset on any day of the week if the burning occurs at least 500 feet from the nearest habitable structure. The ordinance is effective through Dec. 31, 2020.
Per Section 307.5 of the 2012 International Fire Code, all fires must be attended and there must be an extinguishing device immediately available, such as a hose with running water.
Recreational fires that are no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’ used for warming, cooking, and other recreational purposes are still permitted on all days of the week. Burning garbage, refuse, or construction materials remains prohibited.
Why was the ordinance put in place?
Prior to this spring, open burning was allowed every day in unincorporated Lake County. However, on May 12, the Lake County Board voted to temporarily ban open burning due to COVID-19. In August, the Board then voted to approve burning on limited days. The most recent action by the Board extended the ordinance that was set to expire, and made a few adjustments in recognition of the fall leaf season.
Exposure to smoke from open burning can increase serious health consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic in both people who have existing respiratory conditions and those who don’t. People who contract COVID-19 are more likely to develop more severe symptoms and/or serious complications due to smoke exposure.
How will the temporary ordinance be enforced?
Not adhering to the temporary ordinance can result in a violation of the Lake County Temporary Emergency Nuisance Ordinance.
To report an open burning violation occurring in the unincorporated area, please call the Lake County Open Burning Hotline at 847-377-2999.
Have the address, specific location or Property Index Number (PIN), if available, of the property where the violation is occurring so that Lake County may follow up on the complaint in a time-efficient manner.
Please note, some unincorporated areas are also subject to their local fire protection district's restrictions on open burning. Residents should contact their fire district for more details on applicable regulations. Residents can see who their fire protection district is and if they reside in a village/city or unincorporated Lake County by searching their address using the County's Maps Online tool.
Alternatives to burning yard waste
Did you know that there are alternatives to burning yard waste that can have positive impacts on the areas surrounding your home?
You can mulch leaves and grass clippings right where they are, as most mowers have mulching capabilities. Use the leaves on your garden or landscaped areas, around trees, or leave both the mulched leaves and grass on your lawn. This can improve soil, suppress weeds the following season by as much as 80 percent, aid trees and regulate moisture, and provide food for critters such as turtles, toads and birds.
Consider composting! It’s easy and the rewards are tremendous. Leaves and other yard material are some of the building blocks for good compost. Visit the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County’s website for helpful tips to start composting in and around our home.
Yard Waste Pick-Up Programs
Avon, Ela, Fremont, Lake Villa, Shields, and Warren townships offer yard waste pick-up programs. Those living in other townships can contact their waste hauler to see if they offer a yard waste pick-up service in their area.