Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee stated this week burning of the overflowing garbage in collection dumpsters is illegal.
He said he fully understands the frustration on the part of the county since Recology stopped hauling garbage on June 17, “but burning the garbage in those dumpsters is illegal, and even though everyone is frustrated, it does not excuse burning the collection bins. We are actively pursuing that and if caught, the person(s) will be prosecuted.”
He said fire was even reported again Tuesday night in Panaca and Wednesday morning in Dry Valley, to which the fire department had to respond.
“The frustration of the public does not excuse the action,” he said. “They are wasting resources from the fire department. Fire departments, in some cases, can’t put the fires out because it might just smolder for days and days. Then someone thinks the fire is out, dumps a bunch more garbage in, and it starts up all over again. The fire department might be on a garbage call, when something much more important, a major event, or structure fire could happen.”
In Panaca, Lee said the fire department has “been out four times in the last four days. It’s smoking up the towns and posing a health hazard. Such fires, when they really get going like that are virtually impossible to put out, just smolder on and on.”
The threat of brush fire is also possible around many of the transfer stations and burning material could actually cause a wildfire. “So,” he said, “it’s not just a point of burning the garbage from being frustrated, it’s the point of the repercussions from what could happen besides burning the garbage.”
If shown that the dumpsters were warped or badly damaged, Lee said the suspect(s) could be charged with arson and destruction of private property and possibly face up to a year in jail.
Lee said the Sheriff’s department is taking measures to monitor the dump site transfer stations in all the communities involved in efforts to prevent further incidents.