Recreational Burning

Outdoor burning is prohibited in Douglas County from June 1 - October 1; except for recreational fires.

Call the Washington State Department of Ecology – Burn Day Hotline for daily burn information 1-800-406-5322.

Recreational fire. Includes cooking fires, campfires, and bonfires using charcoal or firewood that occur in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure, or ceremonial purposes. Fires used for debris disposal purposes are not considered recreational fires (WAC 173-425-030). The size of a recreational fire is limited to 3’ in diameter and 2’ in height (WAC 173 425 060 (2)(i)) and have all combustible material removed down to mineral soil with a containment area of rock, metal, concrete or any other noncombustible material.  Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material.  Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition (IFC 307.4.2).  See also WAC 173-425.

Bonfires. A bonfire shall not be conducted within 50 feet of a structure or combustible material unless the fire is contained in a barbecue pit.  Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 50 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition (IFC 307.4.1). Requires permit from DOE before burning in Urban Growth areas. 

Portable outdoor fireplaces. Portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material (IFC 307.4.3).

Exception: Portable outdoor fireplaces used at one-and two-family dwellings.  Used for recreational fires only and burning only dry natural (untreated) wood.

Open flames. Open flame cooking devices.  Charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction (IFC 308.1.4).


  1. One- and two-family dwellings.
  2. Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
  3. LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas container with a water capacity not greater than 2 ½ gallons.

Attendance. Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.  A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher complying with Section 906, of the IFC, with a minimum 4-A rating or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck, shall be available for immediate utilization (IFC 307.5).

Extinguishment authority. When open burning creates or adds to a hazardous situation, or a required permit for open burning has not been obtained, the fire code official is authorized to order extinguishment of the open burning operation (IFC 307.3).


Open burning defined. The burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber.  Open burning includes open pit, bonfire and land clearing.

Open burning does not include road flares, smudge pots and similar devices associated with safety or occupational uses typically considered open flames, recreational fires or use of portable outdoor fireplaces.

For the purpose of this definition, a chamber shall be regarded as enclosed when, during the time of combustion occurs, only apertures, ducts, stacks, flues or chimneys necessary to provide combustion air and permit the escape of exhaust gas are open (IFC 2 [M] Chimney).

It is illegal to burn trash/garbage as well as to burn anything in a burn barrel (WAC 173-425-050(5) (DOE).

Prohibited open burning. Open burning shall be prohibited when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make such fires hazardous (IFC 307.1.1). 

Exception: Prescribed burning for the purpose of reducing the impact of wildland fire when authorized by the fire code official.

Location. The location for open burning shall not be less than 50 feet from any structure, and provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading to within 50 feet of any structure (IFC 307.4).


  1. Fires in approved containers that are not less than 15 feet from a structure. Approved containers must be constructed of concrete or masonry with a completely enclosed combustion chamber and equipped with a permanently attached spark arrestor constructed of iron, heavy wire mesh or other noncombustible material with openings not larger than one-half inch (WAC 173-425-050). Other approved containers include the outdoor fire places sold commercially; however, their use is limited to recreational fires burning only dry natural wood.
  2. The minimum required distance from a structure shall be 25 feet where the pile size is 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height.

Unlawful outdoor burning: It is unlawful for any person to cause or allow outdoor burning that causes an emission of smoke or any other air contaminant that is detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of any person, that causes damage to property or business, or that causes a nuisance (RCW 70.94.040, 70.94.650(1), and 70.94.780)(WAC 173-425-050 (4)).

Any person affected by outdoor burning may file a complaint with the permitting agency or other designated enforcing agency (DOE).

Any agency responding to an outdoor burning complaint should attempt to determine if the burning on any particular property is unlawful. This may include, but is not limited to, considering whether the burning has caused an emission of smoke or any other air contaminant in sufficient quantity to be unlawful (DOE).

Any person responsible for such unlawful outdoor burning must immediately extinguish the fire (DOE).

Sky Lanterns. Sky lanterns are small hot air balloon made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended.

The lighting and/or release of sly lanterns or like materials shall be prohibited in Douglas County.

Prohibited within urban growth areas. Open disposal burning of leaves, straw, stubble, brush, logs, stumps or any other combustible material is prohibited within urban growth areas (WAC 173-425-040(2) which prohibits Land Clearing burning and Residential burning). 

Exception: WAC 173.425.060.2(d) organic wind-blown debris [tumbleweeds]; tumbleweed burning (in counties with a population of less than 250,000).

The burning of organic wind-blown debris [tumbleweeds] is exempt from needing a permit. The size of the burn is limited to 4’x4’x3’ high (DCFD#2).  No burning is allowed during a burn ban.

Recreational fires are allowed during a burn ban.  The smoke cannot be a nuisance to adjacent property owners.

Urban Growth Area:

Outside the urban growth area. Residential burning is allowed without a permit.  The burn can be only of natural vegetation, wood, i.e. branches, in a pile not greater than 4’x4’x3’ high.  Burning is allowed during daylight hours only per DOE 1-800-406-5322 (DOE).   No burning allowed during burn bans.