Duncansville to mull burning rules

DUNCANSVILLE — Borough Council will look at tightening its open burning ordinance after two residents complained at a recent meeting about bothersome smoke.

Residents Ed Blontz and Lou Tarczy would prefer that the borough prohibit open burning altogether, except for recreational fires, they said afterward.

Council members seemed inclined toward a less radical change.

“I think we’ll be all right if we (just) strengthen (the ordinance),” said Council President Jeff Wolfe.

The borough’s solicitor will review the ordinance, which allows burning from approximately sunrise to sunset, except on Sundays, Mondays and holidays — with the intention of adding restrictions on the hours and days when burning is allowed and the items that can be burned, said Mayor Lloyd Forshey.

Trash fire smoke is especially problematic for people with allergies and with breathing problems, including asthma, according to Councilwoman Cindy Blontz, Ed’s wife.

The smoke is especially noxious when people burn plastics, which comprise more and more of the trash generated by households, said Ed Blontz, who recalled being in his yard recently enjoying a pleasant summer evening when someone nearby began burning, driving him and a visiting neighbor inside and forcing him to close the windows.

There’s no need for open burning, as another borough ordinance requires all households to have twice-a-week trash collection, Ed Blontz and Tarczy said.

Tarczy first brought up the idea of total prohibition.

“Is there the option?” he asked hesitantly.

“I thought I’d get murdered if I (suggested it),” Cindy Blontz replied.

Tarczy reflected later on the likely resistance as typical of Blair County residents — wanting to be able to continue doing what they’ve been doing all their lives, even if it’s no longer appropriate.

It’s time to bring the borough’s policy into the 21st century, he said.

But council is likely to be unwilling “to step on anyone’s toes,” Tarczy predicted.

One of the problems with the current situation is difficulty with enforcement, according to Ed Blontz and Tarczy.

The police are the proper enforcers, but there isn’t always an officer on duty, Ed Blontz said.

One alternative is to call 911 and ask the dispatcher to summon firefighters to extinguish offending fires, said Councilwoman Jeanette Mills.

Either way, it’s not fair that a resident who’s offended needs to hunt down the location of problem fires, Ed Blontz said.

The simplest solution is outright prohibition, Tarczy said.

“We’ll look at (the ordinance) and make recommendations,” Wolfe said.

“If they don’t, I’ll get hold of the environmental people,” Ed Blontz said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.