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posted: 7/18/2012 4:35 PM

Geneva bans backyard fires due to dry conditions

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If you want to make s'mores in Geneva, you'll have to do so in the range or microwave oven.

The Geneva Fire Department has banned outdoor fires -- including the use of permanent and portable fire pits -- because of the drought.

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"We've had more grass and brush fires than normal," Deputy Fire Chief Jerry Koster said Wednesday.

You don't have to have dry cornstalks or brush to have a fire.

"If your lawn is brown, it will burn," Koster said.

Nobody has been injured in the fires so far; the exteriors of some buildings have been damaged, he said.

People can be fined up to $750 for an illegal fire.

This is the first full summer Genevans have been allowed to have fire pits. Residents lobbied for a change, noting fire pits have become popular recreational amenities in recent years, and that several stores in town sold the portable kind. Other residents protested, noting the direction of the smoke can't be controlled, and that the smoke can disturb neighbors, especially those with respiratory problems.

Burning of leaves and yard waste has been banned since the 1990s.

The ban will last at least until vegetation greens up.

"A single rain event is not going to break the drought," Koster said.

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