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burning wood logs

Outdoor Burning

Outdoor fires are banned in most areas in King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties. Fines for illegal fires typically start at $2,000 plus the cost to reimburse the fire department for their response efforts. It’s always illegal to:

  • burn trash
  • use a burn barrel
  • smoke out your neighbor

 Outdoor Burning


Burning yard waste is not allowed at any time in urbanized areas in our jurisdiction. All land-clearing fires are prohibited in unincorporated areas of King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Contact your local fire district to find out if residential outdoor fires are allowed, and about permit and other local requirements.

Fires are never permitted during air quality or fire safety burn bans.

The following may be allowed under certain circumstances:

  • Recreational fires
    Recreational fires are defined as cooking fires and charcoal barbecues, campfires and bonfires in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure or ceremonial purposes. Fires lit in chimineas, fire pits, fire bowls and similar free-standing devices (except burn barrels) fall under this definition. They are allowed in both urbanized and unincorporated areas.

  • Native American ceremonial fires
    State law defines these as fires "necessary for Native American ceremonies (i.e., conducted by and for Native Americans) if part of a religious ritual." If you wish to have a Native American ceremonial fire outside of tribal lands, you must have a permit from the local fire district. These permits will not be granted during air-quality burn bans and fire-safety burn bans.

  • Certain agricultural fires
    We issue agricultural burning permits only to farmers who can demonstrate through tax records that they run a commercial agricultural operation. Farmers must also demonstrate that the burning is necessary or meets criteria for best management practices. Agricultural fires are always prohibited during air quality burn bans and fire-safety burn bans.

When you burn, follow these regulations:

  • Keep it small. Fires must not exceed three feet in diameter or two feet in height.
  • Fuel it right. Only charcoal, dried firewood or manufactured firelogs may be used. It is illegal to burn anything else.
  • Stay clear of structures. Check with your local fire department regarding setback requirements.
  • Stand guard and extinguish. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times, and the fire must be extinguished before leaving it.
  • Ask first. Permission from a landowner, or owner’s designated representative, must be obtained before starting a recreational fire.
  • Mind the ban. Recreational fires are always prohibited during air-quality burn bans. They may also be prohibited during a fire-safety burn ban (check with your local fire district.)
  • Be a good neighbor. It is always illegal to smoke out your neighbor. If smoke from your fire bothers your neighbors, damages their property or otherwise causes a nuisance, you must immediately put it out.

 Outdoor Burning Alternatives


Fines for illegal fires typically start at $2,000 plus the cost to reimburse the fire department of their response efforts. 

It’s always illegal to:

  • burn trash
  • use a burn barrel
  • smoke out your neighbor

Taking a match to your yard waste may seem like an easy and efficient way to dispose of your clippings and trimmings, but burning yard waste is illegal and unhealthy.  Smoke from these fires contains pollutions like fine particles and toxics which can harm your health.

Consider these planet and people-friendly alternatives:

Chip it

A chipper or shredder converts your branches and yard waste into useful mulch or the perfect compost pile. 
Compost it

You can convert dead leaves and grass clippings into healthy food for your plants and yard rather than polluting the air.  Composting is a convenient and affordable way to manage yard waste.  Kitsap County has some great information about getting started on composting:

Curb it or Drop it off

Curbside pick-up of yard waste is convenient, affordable and increasingly available alterative to burning. If curbside services are not in your area, consider dropping off your debris to a recycling center in your community.