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Mask burning rally? You’ll need a permit for that in La Crosse and Onalaska, plus the masks need to be made of dry wood

WIZM staff

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A small group of people gathered near Valley View Mall on Saturday, holding signs and American flags for an event billed as a “no more masks” rally.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Wisconsin’s mask mandate this week.

A Facebook post with about 100 people tagged says to invite friends and that the “event will offer all of you like minded Americans a chance to Network!!!”

The post said there will be a “MASK BURNING after RALLY,” but did not disclose a location.

However, participants in the rally at the intersection outside Red Lobster told WIZM News on Saturday that there was no actual plan to collect face masks and burn them.

If that location is in the city of La Crosse or Onalaska, not only would you need a burn pit permit, but you wouldn’t be able to burn masks, unless they’re made of dried wood. Also, masks are still required to enter most businesses, not to mention the whole COVID-19 issue still being pretty prevalent around the world and masks help keep others safe if you are infected.

Not even 20 percent of Wisconsin residents are vaccinated.

“Sometimes we get notification of these types of things and either people don’t show up or it wasn’t really a valid plan in the first place,” La Crosse Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Schott said. “But certainly, I hope that people would be smart and not do something that would put people’s safety at risk.”

Schott says the city of La Crosse has pretty strict rules when it comes to burning.

“We don’t have any type of open burning,” he said. “We have what’s called burn pit permits. So you can get a permit and that allows you to burn in a fire pit, and there’s some pretty stringent restrictions on what you can burn and what that means as far as smoke traveling into your neighbor’s windows.”

The city’s recreational fire permit (c)10 notes: “Only clean and untreated wood may be burned.”

In the city of Onalaska, you have to have a permit and can only do recreational burning in an in-ground fire pit or with what Onalaska Fire Department Lt. Wayne Nagy said, “UL approved burn device. It’s got to be something that would have an enclosure around it and a cover that would go on the top and you only can burn dry wood.”

Here’s more info on the city of Onalaska fire recitational burning permits.

Also, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources suspended burning permits Friday in dozens of counties and mobilized firefighters as the state heads into an unseasonably warm and dry weekend.

Last spring, Pat Corran with the La Crosse Fire Department, joined La Crosse Talk PM to talk about fire pits and burn bans.


Information on La Crosse burn permits can be found here. An application can be attained here.

Below is more information on recreational burn permits in the city of La Crosse:

FOR QUESTIONS ON YOUR RECREATIONAL FIRE PERMIT 608.789.7260.

Requirements/Responsibilities of the Applicant per Municipal Ordinance Sec. 18-103:

BURNING OF TRASH, GRASS, AND REFUSE RESTRICTED.

(a) No person shall kindle or maintain a grass fire, bonfire, or rubbish fire authorize any such fire to be kindled or maintained within the City without a permit from the City of La Crosse Fire Department or other proper authorization. A permit fee shall be paid in accordance with Appendix C of this code. (Am. Ord. #48280-14-14)

(b) No person shall burn any refuse in the streets or alleys. No garbage shall be burned. No cans, cartons, or any other substance which would create offensive, obnoxious fumes and/or odors shall be burned.

(c) A recreational fire, such as any small fire contained in a self-enclosing portable device or non-combustible structure located a residence for the purposes of recreation and personal enjoyment, shall comply with the following requirements:

1. Recreational fire devices shall be at ground level and shall be no closer than ten (10) feet from any structure or any other combustible material.

2. Fire shall be contained in a portable device that is placed upon a secured non-combustible surface, or constructed of non-combustible material and placed on a non-combustible surface. No personal shall maintain a recreational fire in an approved portable device or non-combustible structure so that the flames extend beyond the fire chamber.

3. Only portable devices or non-combustible structures with lids and ember arresting screens shall be used and remain intact during use for any such recreational fire.

4. Fires shall not be started at a time or maintained when the wind speeds exceed fifteen (15) miles per hour and smoke from recreational fires shall not create a nuisance for the neighboring property owners. No recreational fires shall be started when the wind will cause smoke, combustibles or other materials to be carried by the wind toward any building or other combustible or flammable materials.

5. Materials for recreational fires shall not include rubbish, garbage, recyclable items, trash, yard waste, or any materials made of or coated with rubber, plastic, leather, or petroleum based materials and shall not contain any combustible or flammable liquids. NO CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS.

6. Adequate fire suppression equipment, such as shovels, fire extinguishers or water hoses or containers shall be present to extinguish or control fires at all times.

7. Fires shall be attended at all times by at least one responsible person of the age eighteen (18) or older.

8. It is the duty of any renter or lessee at a dwelling to notify and obtain written permission from the property owner prior to initiating any recreational fire.

9. Citations may be issued for failure to comply with the above regulations and the property owner, renter or lessee shall be held liable for any damage caused by any recreational fire, including the cost of citations. The property owner and/or person who has started any recreational fire shall hold the city harmless from any and all such liability for any damages caused by a recreational fire.

10. Only clean and untreated wood may be burned. Recreational fires shall not be permitted from 12:00 am to 7:00 am nor shall a person maintain a fire for more than five continuous hours per day.

11. Authorized campgrounds and City Parks shall be exempt from the provisions of this subsection. However, the same shall be subject to any applicable regulations or permit requirements.

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