HOM Recreational fires a burning issue

By Jerry Reising

Q:What kind of recreational fires can we have in Rochester? I've been told I can't burn construction materials such as leftover short pieces of 2-by-4s. I'm not supposed to burn yard debris and branches either. What can I burn to have a weenie roast?

A:According to Deputy Fire Chief Lyle Felsch, a recreational fire is for recreation, not to dispose of refuse or unwanted material. The intent is what's important, he says. Regulations say the fire can be no more than 3 feet in diameter and must be 25 feet away from a building or other combustible materials. If you have a fire pit or a grill, the distance to combustibles is 15 feet. One should have a fire extinguisher or garden hose just in case something goes awry. Felsch says that you can't burn refuse or construction materials. That includes your leftover pieces of 2-by-4. Specifically, dimensioned lumber cannot be used as fuel. Pressure-treated or painted wood should never be burned. Charcoal or coal or firewood is acceptable.

If you want to burn cut up tree limbs and twigs to get the fire started, that's OK. Remember, it is the intent that will keep you from getting a warning or a ticket.


The fire department isn't out playing Smokey the Bear, wandering around the neighborhood sniffing the air. But you'll probably get a visit if someone in the neighborhood smells smoke and reports a fire in the area. The way to short-stop that is to call the fire dispatcher non-emergency number at 285-8963 and tell them about your s'mores party or wiener roast beforehand.

In Olmsted County, the rules are less strict. You can get a burning permit and dispose of leaves and trees and brush but you need a permit.

Q:I need to have rainwater from the gutters on my house moved farther away from the house. How do I attach the extension to the downspout elbow?

A:Attach the extension to the elbow with two galvanized self-tapping sheet metal screws. Fit the extension to the elbow and drill holes, slightly smaller than the screw diameter, through both sides of the joint. Screw it together. Resist the urge to fasten them with pop rivets. When you want to clean or replace the pipes you don't want to have to drill out the rivets.

Q:I am sure you are tired of the Lady Bug issue, but I have another question. I was so delighted when you finally suggested some possible items for control of these pests ... alas, I cannot find them. I thought the camphor cakes and crystals were those moth things but they are not. Do you know where they might be available or if they are by a brand name? I promise not to bring up the issue again.

A:Marilyn, have hope. The infestation of aphids in soybean fields is less severe than last year. Fewer aphids means fewer Japanese Lady Beetles, Lady Bugs or whatever you call them. As for where to find camphor, most pharmacies carry it. Eagle Drug in downtown Rochester has camphor cakes for $2.29 and spirits of camphor, two ounces, for $3.13.

If you have a question or comment, send to About the House, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester MN 55904. Or e-mail questions to Jerry Reising at You also may call 285-7739.

What To Read Next
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.