AUGUSTA — The fate of a bill to allow burn permits to be issued online by entities other than the state of Maine was up in the air Monday afternoon.

The House of Representatives tabled L.D. 1640, an emergency bill, brought by Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, after the bill-filing deadline, Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner said. The Senate gave initial approval to the bill on Friday.

At the end of the second week in June, letters went out from the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Forest Service to municipalities warning that online burn permits obtained from sites other than the Maine Forest Service’s are invalid and requesting that communities immediately discontinue the use of systems.

Two Maine-based companies, Warden’s Report and Burning Permits, have been providing a way for towns to issue fire permits online for about four years and 10 years, respectively, at no cost to residents. Representatives from both companies say their services were developed with the full knowledge of the state forest service. Between them, they reach more than 70 communities in the state.

A week ago a representative from the Maine Forest Service said the forest service had allowed those systems to be developed in error.

The Maine Forest Service has launched its own online system, through which state residents can obtain permits to burn brush, wood debris, grass or agricultural fields. Permits cost $7; a portion of the fee is shared with the municipality where it is issued. Under the system, controlled burns may take place only after 5 p.m.

Fire chiefs said they prefer the flexibility that the private companies offer, which includes the ability to deny permits to be issued if conditions are not favorable or allow daytime burns if conditions and staffing allow.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ