STATELINE (WIFR) -- Dozens of Rockford neighbors have learned the hard way this year, open burning isn't allowed inside city limits and if you're caught, you may end up paying a hefty fine.
Autumn leaves add plenty of color to Rockford neighborhoods this time of year, but once they fall, those leaves have to go into lawn bags. There is no open burning allowed inside city limits.
"It puts a burden on our guys, and we tie up that emergency vehicle which could be elsewhere at a medical call or possibly a structure fire," says Rockford fire investigator Mike Rotolo.
Rockford firefighters are cracking down on neighbors who break the city's burning rules. sixty tickets have been handed out so far in 2013, the fines can be up to $700.
“It's a safety issue. Not everyone follows the guidelines as far as being far enough away from combustible materials. A lot of people within the city have health related issues, asthma, with the proximity of the houses; it does become a health issue."
Belvidere’s fire chief knows all about how smoke from yard waste can overwhelm a neighborhood.
"I had a neighbor that would pile up his grass clippings all summer long, then burn that pile. That pile would smolder for weeks on end. I couldn’t have my windows open; it stunk up the whole neighborhood," says Fire Chief David Worrell.
Belvidere doesn't allow leaf burning, neither does Loves Park. There, if you rake yours leaves to the curb, they'll get vacuumed up by the city. Freeport has banned open burning, while neighbors in Machesney Park and Cherry Valley can burn their leaves during certain times in the fall.
For fans of hot dogs and marshmallows, many cities allow you to cook those on an outdoor fire, as long as the flames are out once you're finished cooking.