Are People Really Allowed to Set Fires in the Middle of Montecito?

Recently, there have been a few intentional fires in the middle of Montecito, which surprises me, given the area’s vulnerability. (The photo is from Saturday morning.) And then there’s the matter of air quality—the smoke drifts all over and makes breathing difficult. Can these fires really be legal? —T.

Aaron Briner, fire marshal and battalion chief at the Montecito Fire Department, was happy to explain:

Residents are allowed to burn agricultural trimmings in non-fire season when weather conditions permit. When a request for a Burn Permit is received by the District, we perform a site visit to ensure that the material is approved, the area is conducive for a burn, and all the necessary precautions have been addressed. Once everything has been satisfied, we issue a Burn Permit. The Permit is active for a two-week period and can be extended for an additional two weeks.

The approved burn days are determined by the Air Pollution Control District. Residents are only allowed to burn on approved burn-days. There is no burning allowed on Sundays or holidays. Permittees must call the District on the day they plan to burn to advise that they will be burning. The District can cancel planned burns if weather conditions warrant.

As described above, there are many steps surrounding the safe issuance and performance of agricultural burning in the District. Burning agricultural piles is an essential tool in our goal to provide defensible space to the residents within the community.

Got a question? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473 and I’ll do my best to get an answer.

Burning Questions:
••• What’s the Story With the Half-Finished Lot Next to the Montecito Country Mart? 
••• Is the Bridge Over San Ysidro Creek Ever Going to Get Repaired?