Residents in Tehachapi and throughout Kern County may start burning hazard reduction fuels now that open burning is permitted, said a recent Kern County Fire Department press release.

Andrew Freeborn, public information officer for KCFD, said in an interview that people need to apply in-person for a permit at the fire department location nearest to where they live if they plan to burn at their property.

"Firefighters are able to explain the permit, walk people through the information, get everything filled out and file it," Freeborn said.

The permit is valid for one year and is free.

After the issuance of the permit, the resident will then need to call the same fire station the day of the planned burning at their property. This will allow fire department personnel to check if it falls within Permissive Burn Days, said Freeborn.

The fire department works with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District to plan days that open burning is allowed. This year's season is slated to close near May, but may end earlier depending on vegetation and weather conditions, said Freeborn.

The factors to allow or not allow burning on a particular day depend on weather, moisture accumulation and fuel moisture levels and air pollution. Additionally, the burn may be permitted at fire station captains' discretion due to all factors, according to a fire news release.

"From the fire department's standpoint, we would really like to see people doing the burning as early in the season as possible," Freeborn said. He added that this limits vegetation from adding to other new growth later in the year and assists the department and residents in reducing fire risks.