September 26, 2008

Windstorm Did Deliver One Positive — Free Firewood

By Steve Bennish Staff Writer

Free firewood is one of the big upsides to the aftermath of the Sept. 14 windstorm that hit the Miami Valley and southwest Ohio. With natural gas costs expected to soar, having a wood stove or fireplace insert as a standby heat source should pay off. The key is knowing how and what to safely burn. That means that the storm's bounty -- fashioned from the limbs, branches and sections of trees felled -- should be allowed to dry until next winter before it is burned. As soon as the cleanup started, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Department of National Resources Division of Forestry issued guidelines and warnings on handling firewood. Here are the key points. Don't give the emerald ash borer beetle a free


ride: Burn your wood close to home. Be aware of the threat of the spreading the Asian bug, which kills ash trees in three to five years. All Ohio counties with reported cases have been placed under quarantine by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

It is illegal to move ash trees, parts of an ash tree, and all hardwood firewood out of Ohio's quarantined counties. Don't burn green wood: Allow freshly cut or fallen wood to dry for six to 10 months before burning. Unseasoned firewood will burn poorly and deposit potentially dangerous creosote in a chimney. Too much creosote, a residue formed by wood gases, can cause a fire in a chimney. -

Any wood will burn. Denser woods, if dried, deliver more heat. Hardwoods -- ash, oak, beech, birch, hickory, maple and dogwood -- are good for long-lasting fires.

Softwoods -- pine, spruce, and fir -- are good for kindling because they ignite and burn rapidly. You should store wood outdoors.

- Use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified stoves or inserts: Properly installed EPA-certified stoves and fireplace inserts burn wood more efficiently, safely, and heat with less smoke.

Have damaged trees examined: You should be concerned about trees that survived, not just those that fell. -

Homeowners should work with a certified arborist or reputable tree-cutting service.

Wood lot owners should contact a professional forester about how best to properly harvest damaged trees before they lose value.

The ODNR Division of Forestry offers the "Call Before You Cut" toll-free hot line at (877) 424-8288 and www.callb4ucut.. com

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