Ban on burning vetoed in Bellevue; grill fire erupts
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A grill on a porch next to a wooden fence caught fire last Thursday in Bellevue -- the same week that Mayor George Doscher vetoed an ordinance banning grilling within five feet of combustible material.
Bellevue fire Chief Glenn Pritchard said the blaze on Orchard Street began when the fuel line connecting the grill to its propane tank caught fire. The flames destroyed the grill and damaged a wooden fence, against which the grill was positioned, Chief Pritchard said.
He said that placing a grill against a fence or home was "asking for trouble."
The ordinance, which also requires residents to obtain one-time open-burning permits, has been a hot topic in Bellevue since the council passed it, 6-2, June 12.
Mr. Doscher has called the proposed law "over-legislation." After the council vote, he told residents to light their grills in protest but later said he believed residents should obey the law.
Last week, he vetoed the ordinance, but Linda Woshner, council president, predicted that council would override the veto.
Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the borough building, 537 Bayne Ave.
The mayor said that the grill fire last Thursday did not change his position on the ordinance.
"This was an accident and accidents happen," he said, adding that the borough should not pass new laws each time an accident occurs.
But Ms. Woshner said the fire "shows that these things do happen."
"We're just trying to promote common sense," she added.
"I'm hoping that the residents will learn and be more careful."
Another supporter of the ordinance, Bellevue resident Carol Wivell, said the fire was "proof" that the ordinance is necessary.
"How many houses were put at risk by this grill fire?" she asked.
Her house is three feet from the house next door, she said.
But Ms. Wivell said, for her, grills are not the most important part of the ordinance.
The new ordinance also would require residents to obtain permits for outdoor fire pits from the borough fire marshal.
"I don't really care about the grills," she said. "I can't breathe because of the wood smoke."
Ms. Wivell also pointed to an April incident as evidence of a smoke emissions problem in Bellevue. On April 25, eight children left Bellevue Elementary School after smoke from a backyard fire next door irritated them, inducing asthma attacks in some, according to a report on the Bellevue fire department's website.
First Published June 28, 2012 5:51 am