Outdoor & residential burning

gold-shield alert icon

Avoid unnecessary burning

April 2, 2020 – During the COVID-19 crisis, local fire departments and first responders are doing everything they can to protect their own health so that they are ready to protect others. Many people in Washington communities are also extremely concerned about their respiratory health. So before starting an outdoor burn of any type, please consider the potential impacts on your neighbors and on local emergency responders, and postpone or cancel your burn if possible.

For information on alternatives to burning, visit ecology.wa.gov/burningalternatives. To report an illegal burn or unhealthy smoke, call 1-866-211-6284 or visit ecology.wa.gov/reportburning.

We oversee various types of outdoor burning to protect air quality. This includes land clearing, residential yard waste burning, and some fire training burns. Before you burn, check whether you need a permit, if the type of burning you want to do is allowed in your area, and if there is a burn ban in place.

Try composting your yard debris instead of burning it.

What's illegal to burn

It's important to verify that what you want to burn is legal before you begin burning. You can be fined up to $10,000 per day for illegal burning. 

Burning any type of garbage or construction debris is not allowed. This includes: 

  • Paper, cardboard and junk mail
  • Construction debris, lumber and treated wood
  • Rubber
  • Metal
  • Plastics and petroleum products
  • Dead animals
  • Asphalt
  • Any substance that emits toxins or bad odors when burned

Using burn barrels is illegal

The fires in burn barrels receive little oxygen and create toxic smoke that stays low to the ground. Burn barrels are illegal statewide.

Report illegal burning

If you are having trouble breathing or if smoke from an outdoor burn is getting into your house, call 911 for immediate help or report illegal burning.

Urban growth area burning restrictions

An urban growth area (UGA) is land used for urban development. Land outside an urban growth area (like agricultural, rural, and natural land) is protected from urban sprawl. Where you live determines whether you can burn.

Before you burn anything, check if there is a burn ban in your area and if you are in an urban growth area.



Check if you are in an urban growth area.

OPTION A.  USE THE MAP:

  • Click on + sign on the map to zoom in to your area.
  • Yellow shaded areas mark cities and urban growth areas.
  • Click on a yellow shaded area to get more information (pop-up).

OPTION B.  LOOK UP YOUR AREA BY COUNTY

 

Required burning permits

The type of burning you are planning and the location of the burn will determine whether or not you need a permit. Review the information below to determine if you need a permit.

Alternatives to burning

  • Grasscycle — Leaving grass clippings on your lawn adds nutrients back into the soil and gives you a healthy, attractive lawn.
  • Composting — Most vegetation from yards can be turned into a beneficial resource by composting in a bin or a pile. Red wiggler worms can be used to create a rich worm compost for use in your garden.
  • Chipping — Chipping may be a great alternative to rid your lawn of trees and branches and provide your garden with free mulch.
  • Curbside pickup — Many cities and towns offer curbside collection of yard waste and organic household materials. Check with your local government or waste management company.
  • Community or neighborhood cleanup days — Community cleanups are events where your city or town provides free disposal of items, including yard waste. Look for the next cleanup day in your area.
  • Landfills — Many landfills offer reduced fees for yard waste.

Contacts for other questions 

County Phone Email
Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Okanogan counties 509-575-2490 agburnteamcro@ecy.wa.gov
Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman counties 509-329-3400 agburnteamero@ecy.wa.gov
San Juan County 425-649-7267 david.adler@ecy.wa.gov
Benton, Spokane, Yakima, and all other Western Washington counties Contact your local clean air agency Contact your local clean air agency