Writer: Authorities Should Ban Backyard Fire Pits

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer is a popular time to sit around the campfire, even if you’re not camping.

Backyard fire pits have become popular in the city and the suburbs, but they are not OK with everyone.

Carol Dina, a yoga instructor, wrote an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Monday saying that authorities should consider banning them.

Dina, who has asthma, finds the smoke difficult to deal with. She is asking that people in her neighborhood consider her health and that of others when lighting the backyard pit.

John Seltz, the supervisor of air policy for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says that in recent years the number of people lighting fires in their backyard fire pits has risen considerably.

“It accounts for about a third of the fire emissions in the metropolitan area,” Seltz said.

He also said that the contents of the smoke emitted from those fires is similar that of tobacco smoke.

“There are carcinogens and irritants: things that shouldn’t be breathed on a long-term basis,” he said.

Seltz admits, however, that he does enjoy sitting by the fire. So he understands that many Minnesotans love their fire pits.

Transplanted New Yorker Jennifer Samuel in one of those fire-pit lovers.

“At night after we put the kids to bed, the neighbors often come down with a 6-pack and hang out, and sometimes we even barbecue during the day and the kids can roast marshmallows,” Samuel said.

She says her fire pit is something that brings her community together – a feat that is hard to accomplish these days.

  • TW

    Well of course they should be banned. Why should anyone have fun when a small number of people have a problem with it? This is America after all, we have the right to stop the pursuit of happiness as long as we can prove it is harmful to someone’s health. That’s why we hate smokers and folks who enjoy eating also. Tax them out if you can’t ban them…now there’s a thought, every fire pit owner has to pay for a license and inspection. Make it a self funded state department, generate a load of money for Gov. and his helpers. Call it the Department of Wet Blankets and Party Poopers.

    • Charlie Brown

      Good one…Lets have a Community walk about not burning any wood for fun and activities…..Maybe a group of bike riders can raise funds to suppot a Gov. Group for Lobbying against the family fun of cooking hot dogs out on an open fire. …..Lets force the neighbors indoors so they can get fat by watching TV because if they do anything outside in their own back yard which they are paying mortgage on belongs to the Local Neighborhood Unit Collective….

      • Lori Seay

        OOhhh we can also have a fundraiser to ban sharp knitting needles. Lord knows we do not want an old lady to harm herself making a scarf for little Bobby!!

      • markH

        I’m all for the “Community walk” idea, as long as it’s “clothing optional”.

    • Patrick

      Do you feel better now you self righteous, blowhard, tea party martyr. This is America. People get to have opinions. CCO likes to put up articles like this because it stirs people like up and gets you to read it.

      • Tom Willard

        “…stirs people like up…”?? What does this have to do with politics you illiterate forum troll?

        • Pete

          “A Tea Party Martyr”? What the heck is that? If you really want to see a blow hard…take a good look in the mirror, I’d make book that you’d find one there.

        • Patrick

          “…stirs people like YOU up…” – Hows that? BTW TOM, among other things, actual trolls like to get snotty and correct grammar on comment boards. If you believe a single typo is proof of my lack of literacy then I would suggest you are maybe just looking for any reason to feel superior to something….anything. Sorry about your issues. Moving on, you will notice the original post by TW is sarcastic and thinly veiled anti “big government” rhetoric. That’s how politics got in to all this. I just called him out. So in conclusion Tom, you fail ;-)

          • patricksucks

            Patrick, you are an idiot. this is a big government issue. next we will be banning wood burning stoves and fire places.

            • patrickisanidiot

              by the way, the smell of certain ethnic foods cooking make me sick to my stomach… lets start by banning them

      • TW

        It does like, stir people like up, you know what I mean like? Feeling better began way before I reacted to this ridiculous news item. My sympathies to anyone who struggles with asthma, our sons had mild asthma when they were young and used nebulizers to breath OK at night. We did not restrict them from being outside or running and playing and they do not have symptoms any more. If they or I had chronic asthma like some do we would take measures to avoid dust and pollutants by staying in a controlled air environment, like in our house with the AC on, like.

        • tallulah bell

          I’ve been trying to generate interest in banning recreational fires for nearly a decade. my city council person Elizabeth Glidden was eager to help until she got elected (and now relected ad nauseum) and stopped caring. It makes no sense to work to eliminate cigarette smoking from our society while at the same the time condoning and encouraging recreational fires. You can tell from some of the comments on here that America is far from an enlightened society where the good of a community can be civilly and intelligently debated. Start scoring these comments for rudeness, and you will see that the pro-pit people ‘win’ hands down.

    • Bonfire Police

      Ban Yoga,Someone strained a muscle..Ban laughter, it makes me sad..where does this end?? You’d think she’d be embarrassed to sign her true name to the letter!

      • Fire Bug

        Buy yourself a gas fire pit that’s smokeless, less pollution, and fewer enemies.

        • Drunken Dissed Orderly

          How about this – YOU buy YOURSELF one and YOU can feel better about YOURSELF and mind YOUR OWN business.

    • speedstan

      LOL! You nailed it. The new group of PC control-freak would probably not be happy to hear that they share a lot of characteristics with some of the uber-fundamentalist religious groups they supposedly despise…

  • Jill

    Sure, ban my firepit because it may affect others in the vicinity when you ban loud mufflers on motorcycles because the noise may damage my hearing and it bothers me when they drive by. We allow a lot of personal freedoms for others that we may not enjoy so we can do the things that we enjoy.

  • Tom Willard

    Noise raises my anxiety level. We NEED to ban lawn mowers and leaf blowers…and maybe jets.

    WCCO, you have sunk to new levels of stupidity. Do you do this just to see what comments you can generate. Well here is mine. GET OVER IT!!

  • I hate yoga

    The folks how are complaining so much about back yard fire’s really need to have some cheese and crackers with their wine. If you need some your free to come over to my back yard fire and have some, heck maybe you’ll even make a friend or two. Oh that’s right your to busy getting in touch with your inner self (?), being a busy body and making everybody else’s life miserable because you are. Be glad your not my neighbor, because I’d make sure I had a fire everyday….just for you.

    • Sounds like you hate a lot

      I sound like you don’t need anyone to make your life miserable, you are just that way naturally all by yourself. I truly am glad you are not my neighbor, as hate-filled and nasty as you are.

      • Rico Suave

        Talk about wet blankets! You and yoga lady need to get a room and cry together about the haters. I hate liberalism and liberal whiners more each day. In fact I go to bed each night dreaming about how I can make yoga lady miserable. Just when I think I couldn’t hate liberals more than I do, another one opens their yapper and something silly pours out, and lo and behold, I hate them all just a little more. I can’t wait for tomorrow. Stay thirsty my friends. Rico Suave rides!

      • Now I really hate yoga

        Sounds wonderful…glad not to meet you either. When your done getting in touch with yourself come over to our fire pit (yes everybody’s invited as long as they behave) Maybe you can make a friend or two as well…or not. I had a BIG ROARING fire last night in protest anyways…geez what the heck is this world coming to anyways, I’m beginning to not even recognize this place anymore, bunch of wimps from where ever….GO HOME. How much you wanna bet this gals from the west coast…I remember when I lived in Idaho, they moved in there and I came home because of it. Bunch of liberal busy body’s who think the rights of the few are more important than the rights of the many.

      • mom

        I agree with you, we live in a small community and in our neighborhood everyone’s yards are conjoined there is no alley, on a given weekend you may find 3 or 4 fires going on in our backyards and it is great, we all walk back and forth between yards, the kids can run between yards and play night games, they roast marshmallows, make somers everything a childhood summer evening should be filled with. I would hate for this woman to live in our neighborhood, we have never had any complaints, plus it is safe for the adults because they aren’t out at a bar drinking and then driving. This woman sounds like she should be living on an island by herself, then she can have her perfect living environment

    • Mark from mntaxwaste.com

      Well said

  • KO

    I have asthma/allergies too….and a fire pit, which my family enjoys. Great way to relax and also to keep kids wanting to be at your house when they are teens. We don’t ban doughnuts or soda (yet) because people have diabetes, why should we? There is a reason I have medication….and one of them is so that I can do things and enjoy things I couldn’t otherwise.

  • Lori

    Most people with breathing problems lock their doors and windows and live with the furnace in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. If the woman in the article has this big of a problem breathing, then she should stay indoors in pure air and stay healthy and leave the others to have a nice night. This is a win win for everyone. And, if she didnt complain to her nieghbors and got along with them, maybe they would make her somore and deliver it to her door.

    • Kay

      So if you don’t have breathing problems, that means you are supposed to enjoy having your house stink of smoke?
      How is keeping people locked inside their own homes year round a win win?
      It sounds mean and selfish and cruel to me…. YOU stay inside because WE think it is fun to stink up this nice fresh natural air.
      Geez, I remember when air pollution was concidered a bad thing, now it is concidered a right. How sad. How very very sad.

      • Tallulah

        Well said Kay. Anyone who wants to form a group to stamp out this ‘back to nature by abusing it’ movement, I’m ready and willing…

    • fire Bug

      Move to Aspen, Colorado where you are only allowed to have a fire in your fireplace every other night due to pollution. Odd numbered addresses on odd days, and even number addresses on even numbered days.

    • ck

      you need to ban automobiles, trucks, and buses along with wood fires. And those god-awful charcoal grills! OMG

    • Cathy

      Everyone, including people with breathing problems, deserve the right to breathe clean, healthy air – not air that is polluted with wood smoke. People with respiratory problems, children, the elderly (all groups who are most at risk from wood smoke pollution) should always have the right to go outside in the fresh, clean, smoke-free air, and every homeowner deserves the right to open their own windows when they wish to let in a fresh, cool breeze.

      Because wood smoke particles are so fine, high levels of wood smoke that is outside can enter nearby homes even with doors and windows closed, no matter what the season. In winter, wood smoke is also drawn in through furnace vents and air intakes.

      Caring for the environment, and the health and well-being of others . . . isn’t this what people in any community should be trying to do? There are cleaner alternatives to wood fire pits in residential areas, including natural gas, gel, or ethanol fire features, or for those who want to, simply going to a campsite . . . so wood fire pits in urban areas are not in any way essential. But clean air is, for everyone.

  • c1627

    Most peoples vehicles give off more bad fumes than a bonfire for crying out loud. I sure hope these people don’t go camping! Maybe they should all start taking the bus, carpooling or riding the train. You want to ban others form their freedoms let’s take away your freedom since those fumes bother you so much. When you “ALL” start finding new ways to get to work, plant a tree or a garden to contribute then I say we should talk.

    My teenage son has 2, sometimes 3 bonfires a summer. They are here, they are safe, we are home and there are no drugs and drinking. They play football, hackysac, baseball and then roast marshmallows over the fire.

    I suppose these people want to ban grilling too? We wouldn’t want to catch you at a BBQ would we? If your allergies are that bad go inside in your air conditioning and keep the rest of the world out.

    • Kate

      While I completely disagree with most of what you are saying, exagerating to the point of being completely off the subject, I have to say if you are only having 2 or 3 fires a summer, I would trade my neighbors for you in a minute. They might have 2 or 3 a week. They don’t care much about getting them out, usually too drunk by then, so the previous nights fire might still be smoldering when I come home from work the next evening. The neighborhood reeks a mile away. And when it is hot and humid, and they still have a fire, that smoke hangs in the heavy air for days until the weather changes.
      I want fires banned in my city because it greatly decreases the value of my home to me. I’m a big gardener but now my eyes burn too much to do what I used to be able before these jerks moved in. But I have done a ton of gardening in the past 30 years and have planted dozens of trees, so then we shoudl talk? I don’t know why that matters, that is a bizarre statement.
      I go camping, don’t know why you hope I don’t. Campfires belong in a campground.
      I don’t want to ban grilling. People don’t grill for hours on end and don’t create nearly as much smoke.
      I don’t know when air pollution became a freedom. I really dont’.

      • :)

        You ma’am are a true liberal idiot. Your right campfires are for campgrounds, but thats why I have a recreational fire in my backyard when I am not camping. Go wax your Prius or something…..

      • Benny the Bull

        wow, exaggerate much? My neighbors have a fire once and a while and i can’t smell a thing, and yes, my nose works perfectly fine. I can smell your BS over this message board.

  • one step farther

    Lets outlaw wood fireplaces too, same thing but indoors /sarcasm

    The real problem is that they drink evil alcohol at these fire pits and that’s just not right

  • Let's suck the fun right out of MN

    Maybe we should just have laws about what you CAN do in Minnesota, instead of what you can’t. There’d probably be a lot less laws…

    • TW

      That’s a good one. Won’t take much pen and paper either. I will have to think about what we are allowed to do…don’t rush me.

  • kap

    shut it

  • AJ2000

    So Carol Dina wants The State to cart off her neighbors to the Gulag for punishment for starting a fire. Maybe it would be right that her neighbors similarly call the police to arrest to imprison her for the fragrance of aromatherapy that she probably gives off into the neighborhood. She belongs in a lockup for sure.

  • Lois Yue

    close you windows and turn your air conditioning on

    • Auntie Venom

      My elderly neighbors do not have air. Never have had it. They’re some tough people, but the smoke from another neighbors burning has caused them a few trips to the ER by ambulance. Too bad they can’t enjoy air…you know, the stuff carbon based entities breath.

      • samIam

        I suggest a community drive to raise funds so they can get an air conditioner. How’s that grab ya? Again, why should the inhabitants for the rest of the state suffer because of ya-all living on top of each other in Minneapolis?
        Pull your head out and don’t be so self centered….and if smoke get’s into your lean to ask the folks huddles around the garbage can to put it out.


  • Al

    Thought it was interesting that an ad on the page that carried the article was for an outdoor fire pit made by Mantel. You just gotta love the old USA.

  • Lois Yue

    yes all, let’s WORRY about the possible government shut down instead…

  • Travis R.

    Good grief! This is Minnesota, that’s what we do. People with severe allergies and breathing issues,things like that usually move to Arizona . Try that instead of living in a woodsy state,

  • Joe

    Why is it so hard to understand that many people don’t like to smell smoke from their neighbors next door? I used to burn wood in my backyard but I stopped because I got the feeling that if bothered my neighbors and later I found out that it did. NO problem.

    • Jason

      Good for you. You made that choice on your own. Not because someone told you to. Congrats. Again YOUR CHOICE.

      • M B

        The problem is those people who don’t give a rip about the people around them, only what amuses THEM.
        “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins”– Oliver Wendell Holmes. For those of you that can’t translate that it means “Your rights end where mine begin.”
        Obesity directly affects only you. Smoking affects all those around you, Burning fires does the same. That smoke leaves your property and enters others. If I ran by and threw a smoke or stink bomb into your house, you’d call the cops, but because the fire is on your property, stinking up someone’s house is okay and it’s an infringement on YOUR rights if you can’t smoke up the neighborhood? What about my rights to be able to have my windows open at night? My windows being open at night affects no one else. Again, your rights end where mine begin and vice-versa.
        I like camp fires. I also believe they should be clean burning, and when you’re done, you put it out so it doesn’t smolder and stink up the neighborhood. Too bad few feel the same.

        • :)

          To bad many of us dont have far left liberal agendas, like you…

        • Jason

          You can have the kids every other weekend. Get to know your neighbor. Really.

        • Drunken Dissed Orderly

          “If I ran by and threw a smoke or stink bomb into your house, you’d call the cops”

          Wrong. I’d chain you up in my basement forever and build a concrete wall around you. Think twice before tossing that smoke bomb.

  • Jake

    Just reading some of these comments reminds me as to why this state is so SCREWED UP. If I had the means to move out, I would have done so YESTERDAY.
    What a bunch of whiny sheep we have become. All mouth, ZERO backbone. That’s the ‘Minnesotan’ way.

  • Rita

    What are they going to ban next BBQing.

    • Ill all bad

      Of course they will not only are they “smokey” but the food is very unhealthy. if you don’t chose to eat healthy they will force you to

      • rita

        well i do eat healthy but i am still a diebetic and i love to BBQ i grill all year long would rather cook on the grill then in the house. Just dont know where they come off telling us what we can and cant do in our own homes in a free country.

    • Perfect!

      So you’re saying it’s ok to ban bonfires and campfires as long as they don’t ban BBQs. I like it! Grills and the like don’t create nearly as much smoke. so that sounds like the perfect solution.

    • fire Bug

      Not a bad idea Rita, I don’t care what my Neighbors do as long as they keep it on their side of the fence.

  • Yoga the Bear

    Why does it mention that she’s a yoga instructor? Is that somehow a noble pursuit that makes her a more valuable member of the community such that we should sympathize with her position? I think not.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Humans have been enjoying campfires on their yard since before the outhouse was invented.

    And Dayton wants to raise taxes to support these control nuts?

    • Victim mentality

      You are the nut. This, like the majority of other articles on which you comment, has nothing to so with politics.

      • Victim Du Jour

        People who want to ban such a normal thing like a campfire are the nut jobs. Next we’ll be throwing priests into Prison for having consensual sex with “Adult” Women.

        If this is the biggest problem at the Minnesota Pollution Agency, perhaps we can afford to cut their budget.

        And you can wear a munchausen bubble-boy suit “Hey!! look at me!! I have asthma everybody! And it comes with handi-cap plates!”

        • Ken

          “Campfire” implies that you are in a camp, not in a densely poplulated city or suburb. If you want to live like a cave man, get the heck out of the city, you really don’t belong here anyway.

          When one fire can smoke up a whole neighborhood, affecting dozens of homes, it is insane that these fires are allowed when there is no real need for them. Yes I know it is fun to sit around a fire once in a while…. one of the reasons it’s great to get out of the city once in a while.

          This is certainly not the biggest problem at the Minnesota Pollution Agency, I don’t know how you decided it might be. But it is a big problem affecting the liveability of our cities. Laws only need to come into play when too many people can’t realize what is appropriate behavior for where they are.

          • :)

            Its called a recreational fire and its allowed to be 36″ x 36″ inches. But yes, you can also have a campfire when you go camping if you would like. The only thing affecting the livability of our cities is your liberal nut jobs that want the government to control everything we do. Go live in New York you sissy city boy

  • http://anneotremba.wordpress.com anneotremba

    seriously, everyone has to have something to make themselves self important. Good job Carol! I mean only someone self absorbed would think that its ok to put their own wants ahead of everyone else.

    • Kay

      That is so twisted! The person that likes clean fresh air as God intended it is “self important” and putting thier own wants ahead of everyone else?!?! How about the people that think it’s fun to burn things up and fills the neighborhood with stinky smoke… but they are having fun so the heck with everyone else that has to gag on thier stink if they go outside and have to forget the pleasure of sleeping with open windows ever again? Sounds to me like the few that like the stink of smoke have already made themselves the most “self important” and are so used to putting their desires ahead of everyone else. The greedy selfish few are just too used to having it thier way, their hollaring now at the thought of concidering anyone but themselves.

      • :)

        How the hell would you know what god intended? Dont be speaking for god. Do you remember the burning bush in the bible? How do you think they cooked back then?? WITH FIRE

  • Auntie Venom

    City ordinance, fire pits must be 25 ft from any structure. In NOMI, it’s rare for a yard to have that much room. I call 911 when a neighbor lights up here in the hood. They always send a fire truck and tell the people to put out the fire.
    For a city as densely populated as Minneapolis, it’s amazing that we are stuck in the stone-age where burning is concerned. Yeah, it’s fun/pretty/intimate or whatever, but not everyone wants to smell it, even through shut windows and air conditioning. Take it to a lakeside park, campground or your place up North. Not a crowded city, not in my vicinity. Unless you like to see fire trucks.

    • Grow UP!

      Auntie Venon, you have options. If you don’t like what other people do, then MOVE. Since when did you become everybody’s mother? Just remember, what goes around comes around and 911 might get tired of YOU calling to report a neighbor’s firepit.

      • YOU grow up!

        MOVE? MOVE???? MOVE????? Seriously, a move can cost thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars if money is lost on a house. You think people should be able to literally smoke other people out of their homes? What if she was there first? Again seriously, people didn’t used to smoke up neighborhoods!!! That was something you did in the country, in parks, in campgrounds, not surrounded by other people’s homes. This has changed a great deal in the 25 years I’ve been in my house, and the years before that in other cities. I think the first 20 years I was in my house, I smelled smoke in the neighborhood 3 times. I remember which 3 houses have been on fire. Now, I can’t ever sleep with a window open because I never know when smoke might be filling the air to stink up my house. All because people are acting like spoiled little children and their “fun” is more important than anyone else in the world.

      • Auntie Venom

        Move? In a heartbeat if we can find someone as stupid as we were to buy a home in Minneapolis that will pay us what we got into it. We grew up in the Good Life State, whose metropolitan area bans burning. We used to enjoy sitting on our deck in the spring and summer and actually smell the sweet smell of flowers. Riding a motorcycle was a pleasure of all the senses. Hell, I’d even take the stockyard over the burning stuff here. Maybe I should take up burning cow and pig chips, it’s part of our cult-chur, dontcha know! Funny thing, the population there isn’t as dense as it is in Minneapolis (no pun intended, it just came out that way) but the air there smells gooood.
        And as far as asking the neighbors to please put out a fire, you don’t ax the entitled to do anything.

    • The Shat

      Congrats on tying up taxpayer resources (the fire department and police) over your petty complaints as opposed to taking the responsibility yourself to simply ask your neighbors to stop. Most folks would happily oblige. But if you bought that arrogant attitude to my yard you’d be met with a much larger fire and perhaps a mean dog. The attitudes of some folks in society simply never cease to amaze me. I feel terrible for what it is going to be like for my children or my children’s children. Freedoms be damned!

    • I agree

      YOU ARE NOT ALONE have tried to talk to the neighbors about their smoke. Not very good neighbors, yes we will stop but they let the fires burn out by 2m

    • Drunken Dissed Orderly

      “I call 911 when a neighbor lights up here in the hood. They always send a fire truck and tell the people to put out the fire.”

      Try to hold the guilt in when you hear of an apartment building going up in flames because of lack of firefighting resources. Apparently all the fire engines and ladder trucks are hosing down people’s s’mores in Mpls alleyways instead…

  • Linda O

    WCCO Editor, Stop dumbing-down your newspaper. Does one person’s negative comment about bon fires warrant sending out a reporter and publishing this type of article? No wonder subscriptions are down.

    • fedup

      DUH this is a TV station not a newspaper AND IT ISN”T JUST ONE PERSON OUT HERE TO HATES THE SMOKE..

    • Fire Bug

      I wake up in the middle of the night coughing because of other peoples fireplace smoke. There are days when I can’t even shovel my driveway because it’s so bad.

  • outdoorsman

    I hardly think that a 3X3 outdoor fire pit is going to endanger someones life or make it hard for them to breath. It is completely stupid to ban something the moral majority enjoys because of a limited few MAY have some kind of adverse actions to it. If the yoga instructor has issues with that then perhaps she shouldn’t be in rush hour traffic.
    It wasn’t that long ago that EVERYBODY burned there garbage in the backyard. Just think of the issues she’d have then! On a personal note, I know many asthma suffers that smoke, and go to bars, as well as casino’s. I guess this is a case of don’t enjoy it because I don’t want you to but I’ll continue doing as I please. Go ahead, ban it, I’ll continue enjoying the great outdoors as I please regardless of what some other idiot wants.
    As far as the writer goes, I think they’ve crossed the line of professional journalism and I think they should be terminated from the position. Obviously they can’t write an article that isn’t biased.

  • ch

    so – wood burning has eclipsed auto emissions?

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