101 Town Center, P.O. Box 5655, Bella Vista, AR 72714 (479)876-1255

Controlled burns now governed by ordinance


There are now specific regulations in place allowing residents to burn dilapidated, hazardous structures on their properties. These regulations also outline the proper steps and rules for conducting controlled burns in city limits.

Dilapidated Structures

“Not all structures fall into this category,” Sims noted of dilapidated structures.

The City Council passed an ordinance Nov. 16, 2015 outlining the rules for burning structures that are or will become fire hazards. These include fallen-in, uninhabitable structures that are not safe for even Fire Department training purposes, said Fire Chief Steve Sims.

Residents must first apply for a Fire Department-issued permit, according to the ordinance. The fee for the permit is $25. Upon application, a certified inspector will come to the property to inspect the structure. The inspector will confirm the structure is or will be a fire hazard, and that there is no presence of hazardous materials — “including, but not limited to, asbestos.”

“Under no circumstance shall a permit be issued if the structure contains asbestos,” the ordinance states. After the mitigation of asbestos, Sims said the department is willing to reconsider the application.

The permit will allow the applicant to set fire to the structure between 10 and 60 days after the permit is approved, provided there are Fire Department personnel on the premises during the burn and until the fire is to a smoldering state. The applicant must notify the Fire Department of his or her intention to burn, obtain approval and work with the department to set a date and time.

Following the burn, the property will be inspected a final time, to ensure the fire has been extinguished. The property owner is responsible for clean up of the debris, Sims stressed. The desire to burn a structure for any other reason other than that structure is a hazard should be first directed to the ADEQ, the ordinance states.

Controlled Burns

The ordinance also finally puts into law the standards by which controlled burns are already being conducted in the city.

Except when using devices designed for a controlled use of fire — grills, fire pits, smokers and the like — no person is allowed to openly burn anything without first contacting the Bella Vista Fire Department dispatch at 479-855-3771 at least 30 minutes in advance.

Residents are not allowed to burn after the sun goes down, and they are required to be present at the fire at all times and keep a water supply nearby. Certain materials are not allowed to be burned, which are lined out in another ordinance and include such things as household trash and construction materials.

If these rules are not adhered to, violators will be subject to an ordinance violation citation, possibly resulting in a court appearance and fine.