Outdoor Burning

Do you live in a permanent no burning area? Use the Interactive Burn Map to check by address.

The Southwest Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) oversees various types of wood burning activities to protect air quality in Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Counties. This includes issuing land clearing burn permits, monitoring the outdoor burning of yard debris, recreational fires, and indoor wood burning devices such as wood stoves and fireplaces.

Did you know? Burn barrels were banned over 20 years ago!

Wood Smoke and Health

Cigarette and wood smoke contain similar cancer-causing substances, including acrolein, formaldehyde, and benzene. Smoke never stays with the fire, hindering the ability of others to enjoy their property and have clean air to breathe. Learn more about the health effects of wood smoke by visiting the links below:

  • County Public Health Departments| Clark | Cowlitz | Lewis | Skamania | Wahkiakum
  • American Lung Association | Children and Air Pollution | Clean Air at Home | Clean Air Outdoors
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution | Burn Wise

  • Burn Bans and Air Quality Advisories

    SWCAA may declare Air Quality Advisories and enact Burn Bans limiting the use of wood burning devices for heat, outdoor burning with a permit or burning recreationally. Air Quality Advisories are called when concentrations of fine particulates (such as PM10 and PM2.5) are high and may be harmful. Sign up for SWCAA Notice Subscription.

    Permanent No Burning Areas

    By state law, the disposal of yard debris by burning is permanently banned within an Urban Growth Area (UGA) or other designated No Burn Areas (NBA). This is due to the population density, air pollution impact, and available alternatives to burning. The burn map boundaries may not follow city limits or county lines. Please check your address on the Interactive Burn Map and learn before you burn. Discover more about the background of outdoor burning.

    Recreational Fires

    Recreational fires are limited to 3ft x 3ft x 2ft using dry, seasoned firewood only, no yard debris. SWCAA recommends converting wood burning firepits to gas or propane, to avoid unnecessary air pollution and smoke complaints. Burn Bans may apply. To learn more recreational burning visit Burning FAQ.

    Outdoor Burning Rules

    The outdoor burning of DRY natural vegetation (branches, limbs, brush, etc.) that has been grown and cut from the property is allowed outside of the permanent no burn areas, with a permit. Hauling in materials from another location for burning is illegal. Outdoor burning is usually allowed October through June, except during Burn Bans. Dates may vary by county.

    The signed permit and an attending person are required to be on-site for all outdoor burning activities. The fire attendant must have the means to extinguish the fire completely and must do so before leaving.

    Choose the right day and burn the correct way. After all the permit requirements are confirmed, check the weather. Burn only when winds are light and do not exceed 7–10 miles per hour. Weather inversions, foggy conditions, or low cloud cover can keep smoke at ground level and not allow it to disperse properly.

    Outdoor burning should be a single-day event, only occur during daylight hours, and meet the following requirements:

    • Safety: Confirm there is not an active Burn Ban prior to lighting the fire.
      • Self-Issued Permit: All counties require a self-issued permit for a single fire under 10'x10'x6'.
      • Site-Specific Permit: Slash piles larger than 10'x10'x6', multi-day burning, or land clearing require a written permit.
    • Setbacks: Fires must not be within 50 feet of any structure including decks, fences, outbuildings, and the neighboring property.
    • Source: Only burn DRY, natural vegetation that has been grown and cut from the property.
      Non-vegetative material is illegal to burn in any manner.
    • Smoke: Fires must not smoke out the neighbors.
      Carefully use leaf blowers and fans to add oxygen into large piles minimizing the smoke created.
    • Supervision: Never leave a fire unattended.
    • Suppression: An adequate water source and/or heavy equipment must be readily available and used to extinguish the fire completely prior to leaving.
      Do not allow a fire to smoke or smolder overnight.

    Illegal Burning

    Burning prohibited materials such as lumber, mill ends, pallets, trash, paper, plastics and construction material is always illegal, and emits toxic chemicals into our air while polluting our soil and water.

    Don’t light a fire and walk away or leave it to smolder all day. Being cited for illegal burning or causing a smoke nuisance can result in fines per violation or occurrence.

    Click the image to see more examples of illegal burning.

    SWCAA Burning Links
    External Related Links