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Hilton Head resident peeved about yard-burning on July 4

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For one Hilton Head Island resident, yard-waste fires and fireworks don't mix.

North Forest Beach-area homeowner Des Darazs said Thursday the town shouldn't allow residents to burn yard debris on the Fourth of July, one of two days next month on which residents are allowed to burn lawn waste.

Darazs, who burns his yard debris, says the resulting smoke from the burn on Independence Day could deter tourists. It's one of two problems he has with the town's new burning policy, which was put in place when a burn ban was lifted in March.

"In my neck of the woods, we got short-term rentals, and most of tourism is centered near this part of the island," he said. "What am I supposed to say to tourists? 'Yeah, I'm having a cookout. I'm cooking out leaves.'

"I just don't know why the town scheduled the biggest holiday of the year as the day to burn."

That one of July's two burning days falls on the holiday is merely a coincidence, according to Chief Lavarn Lucas of the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division.

When the town lifted its burn ban three months ago, it set aside two days each month for burning, rotating among Friday-Saturday, Saturday-Sunday and Sunday-Monday. The rotation schedule fell on July 4, a Friday.

He said the town has no plans to change the date.

"The general position of people has been that smoke doesn't cause a problem," he said. "If it's not causing a problem for citizens on an average day, why should it on a holiday?"

Darazs' other qualm concerns make-up days for burning.

On June 1, windy conditions forced the division to cancel his registered burn. He couldn't burn the next day because he had work, and was denied a make-up day, he said.

Lucas said all nine burns were canceled because of wind June 1. But six of those residents were able to burn the following Monday. He said it wouldn't be worth holding a make-up day for only three residents who didn't get to burn.

Town Councilman Marc Grant said he hasn't heard any complaints about make-up days or burning on the Fourth of July.

Grant, who represents many north-island neighborhoods that were critical of the ban, said the new policy seems to be going well.

Lucas said there have been few burning permits issued and infrequent complaints since the ban was lifted.

In April, there were 31 registered burns, according to the division. May had 22 burns and June had 26, numbers show.

"The amount of burning has been really limited," he said.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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