PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg Fire Department said June and July are peak months for grilling fires.
During the summer months, cooking and recreational fires are at an all-time high, officials said. According to national fire statistics, almost 3,800 Americans are injured by charcoal or gasoline grill fires each year.
Capt. Tim Flinn with the Parkersburg Fire Department said the city of Parkersburg requires burning permits for any outside burning. The requirements include burning only natural vegetation, having a safe distance of about 100 feet from combustible items and clearing any structures or utility lines.
Burning is only permitted between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and fires should always been attended by adults, Flinn said.
Brush piles on fire can easily become out of control and injuries can occur, he said. Prime time for fires is during dinner hours, while people are enjoying the warm weather by cooking out on the grill.
More than half of grill fires occur on residential properties in the United States and almost half of grill fires occur from 5 to 8 p.m., statistics show.
Safety tips to remember when using barbecue grills (courtesy of the National Fire Prevention Association, www.nfpa.org):
* Only use them outdoors.
* Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and from under eaves and overhanging branches.
* Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic and use long-handled grilling tools.
* Cleaning is a high-priority for maintaining fire safety, officials said. Grill owners should remove grease or build-up in trays below grills so they cannot be ignited.
* Buy the proper starter fluid for charcoal grills and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
* Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals are kindling or have already been ignited; never use flammable or combustible liquid other than the starter fluid.
* Check the propane cylinder on propane grills and the hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
* A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
* If the gas is smelled when cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the local fire department.
In recent years, fire pits have become more popular, Flinn said. While they provide warmth and ambiance, there are a new set of concerns for fire services. When using a fire pit, residents should keep away flammable materials and exercise the same precautions as with an open fire.
Residents should not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard or plywood in the fire pits, officials said.
"We try to accommodate the citizens of Parkersburg with allowing them to have cooking fires in the evening," Flinn said. "But (residents) should call the fire department or visit the website to get a burn permit and ensure it appears to be safe to the general public."
For more information or to get a burn permit visit www.onlyminutesaway.com or call the fire department at 304-424-8470.