FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 27, 2017
Media Spokesperson, Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell
Media Coordinator, Joseph Langenbahn
Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California (707) 565-3098
WILSON VINEYARDS AND WINERY ORDERED TO PAY PENALTIES OF $50,000 PLUS RESPONSE COSTS FOR VIOLATING OPEN BURN FIRE REGULATIONS
District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that Kenneth C. Wilson, individually and dba Wilson Vineyards and Winery agreed to a Stipulated Judgment, approved and ordered by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Allan D. Hardcastle , requiring Wilson to pay $50,000 in penalties and $6,648.88 in response costs for violating state and local open burn regulations. Wilson burned 31 large piles of vegetation, brush and debris over several days in April 2016 at property located on Shiloh Ridge in Windsor, without complying with regulations on the size and content of the piles.
Several local fire agencies including the Santa Rosa Fire Department, Central Fire Protection District, Rincon Valley Fire District, Windsor Fire Protection District, Healdsburg Fire Department, Forestville Fire District and the Bay Area Air Quality District were required to respond to the incident. The 31 burn piles had the potential to grow out of control because they exceeded the size allowed under regulations adopted by the Bay Area Air Quality District for conducting open burns and contained material that had not been dried for 30 days.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch stated that “In order to protect our community it is important that land owners who engage in clearing their property by burning brush and vegetation comply with the regulations that have been adopted to prevent the risk of uncontrolled burns spreading and causing wildland fires. The quick response from our fire agencies prevented the spread of fire to other properties in the area.”
Residents are reminded that both the Bay Area Air Quality District and the Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, which oversee parts of Sonoma County, require a burn permit to be obtained before conducting any outdoor burning. The times when such burning is permitted is also limited to certain times of the year (“burn days”), certain hours during those days and limited due to weather conditions. Additional regulations apply regarding size of the piles, the types of materials that can be burned and the safety precautions that are necessary. Contact the local Air District that oversees your area to obtain the specific regulations that apply before engaging in any outdoor burning.
The District Attorney’s Office brings actions such as these to protect public health and safety and to ensure that businesses comply with their legal responsibilities to safeguard the environment. Deputy District Attorney Caroline Fowler handled this matter on behalf of Sonoma County.