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Outdoor Burning Regulations

Mason County Fire Marshal Office
Mason County Bldg. III
426 W Cedar / PO Box 186
Shelton, WA 98584

Fire Marshal Larry Waters
Phone: (360) 427-9670
Fire Marshal ext. 352

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Burn Ban Hotline (360) 427-7799

Outdoor burning in Mason County, except burning on lands under the jurisdiction of a state or federal agency or a local air quality authority is subject to the requirements outlined here.

If you cannot find the answers to your questions below, you may call the Fire Marshal's Office at the numbers listed above.

Why Worry About Outside Burning (back to top)

Smoke from outdoor burning is harmful to human health. The pollution that is generated from outdoor burning poses a serious threat to residents throughout the counties served by Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA): Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston. Smoke from outdoor burning includes fine particulate matter that is especially harmful to babies and children whose developing lungs are small and vulnerable. Smoke also harms the elderly and those who suffer from heart disease, asthma, emphysema, or other respiratory diseases.

Smoke resulting from outdoor burning is also made up of a complex mixture of compounds. Many are toxic and are known to cause cancer.

Pollution from outdoor burning is also a threat to our environment. Outdoor burning has already been phased out in many urban areas of our state.

For a list of alternatives to burning in your area please contact ORCAA or see the agency web site www.orcaa.org

Definitions (back to top)
• Agricultural Burning
Is the burning of vegetative debris from an agricultural operation necessary for disease or pest control, crop propagation, and/or crop rotation, or where identified as a best management practice by an authoritatve source on agricultural practice.
• Construction / Demolition Debris
Means all material resulting from the construction, renovation, or demolition of buildings, roads, and other man-made structures.
• Native American Ceremonial Fires
Means fires necessary for Native American ceremonies (i.e., conducted by and for Native Americans) if part of a religious ritual. Ceremonial fires must follow all fo the guidelines for recreational fires.
• Land Clearing Burning
Means outdoor burning of trees, stumps, shrubbery, or other natural vegetation from land clearing projects (i.e., projects that clear the land surface so it can be developed, used for a different purpose, or left unused).
• Natural Vegetation
Means unprocessed plant material from herbs, shrubbery, and trees, including grass, weeds, leaves, clippings, prunings, brush, branches, roots.
• Outdoor Burning
Means the combustion of any type in an open fire or in an outdoor container without providing for the control of combustion or the control of emissions from the combustion. For the purposes of this rule, "outdoor burning" means all types of outdoor burning except agricultural burning and silvicultural burning.
• Residential Burning
Means the outdoor burning of leaves, clippings, prunnings and other natural vegetation yard and gardening refuse by the property owner or their designee.
• Recreational Fire
Means cooking fires, campfires, and bonfires using charcoal or firewood that occur in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure, or ceremonial purposes. Recreational fires are not to be used for debris disposal.
• Smoke Management Zones
Are areas where land clearing burning is not allowed (burn permits cannot be issued) because of the population density and the public health impact of smoke from large fires. Residential yard debris fires and recreational fires are allowed in smoke management zones.


BURN BARRELS ARE ILLEGAL FOR ANY FORM OF OUTDOOR BURNING. (back to top)
  • The Washington Clean Air Act states that only natural vegetation is allowed to be disposed of by outdoor burning. The following materials may not be burned in any outdoor fire: Garbage, dead animals, asphalt, petroleum products, paints, rubber products, plastics, paper (other than what is necessary to start a fire), cardboard, treated wood, construction/demolition debris, metal, or any substance (other than natural vegetation) that normally releases toxic emissions, dense smoke, or obnoxious odors when burned.
  • The Mason County Fire Marshal is authorized to prohibit all outdoor burning in the case of an extreme fire danger or an air pollution episode.
  • The person in charge fo the fire will be liable for the cost of suppression if the fire gets out of control or if becomes necessary to extinguish the fire as the result of an enforcement action.
  • Burn only during periods of calm to light winds. Burning during periods when wind may scatter loose, flammable materials is an extreme fire hazard.

Residential Burning (back to top)

  1. A written permit is not required for residential burning.
  2. Maximum pile size is four (4) feet in diameter.
  3. A minimum 10-foot firebreak must be constructed around each pile with a 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches.
  4. Only one fire at a time per parcel.
  5. Burn pile must be at least 25 feet from any structure or combustible material. Materials to be burned shall not be moved from one site to another. All material must originate from the property on which the burning is to occur.
  6. The fire must not create a nuisance from smoke, obscure visibility on public roads and highways, or endanger life and property.
  7. No residential fire is to be commenced before dawn and no material is to be added after dusk.
  8. A person and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire must be in constant attendance at the site while burning.

Land Clearing Burning / Agricultural Burning (back to top)

  1. A written permit is required for land clearing / agricultural burning.
  2. Land clearing / agricultural burn permits are issued by Mason County Fire Marshal Larry Waters, and require a site inspection. Call (360) 427-9670 ext. 352 to make an appointment for a site inspection.
  3. A valid permit must be on site while burning.
  4. Materials to be burned must originate from the property on which the burning is to occur.
  5. The fire must not create a nuisance from smoke, obscure visibility on public roads and highways, or endanger life and property.
  6. Maximum pile size is twenty (20) feet in diameter.
  7. A minimum 10-foot firebreak must be constructed around each pile.
  8. Each pile must be at least 100 feet from any structure, at least 50 feet from standing timber.
  9. No land clearing fire is to be commenced before dawn and no material is to be added after dusk.
  10. A person and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire must be in constant attendance at the site while burning.

Recreational Burning (back to top)

  1. A written permit is not required for a recreational fire.
  2. Recreational fires are not to be used for debris disposal.
  3. Maximum fire size is three (3) feet in diameter.
  4. A minimum 10-foot firebreak must be constructed around each fire with a 20-foot vertical clearance from overhanging branches.
  5. Fire shall be in a metal or concrete fire pit, such as those typically found in designated campgrounds.
  6. Only one fire at a time per parcel.
  7. Fire must be at least 25 feet from any structure or combustible material.
  8. The fire must not create a nuisance from smoke, obscure visibility on public roads and highways, or endanger life and property.
  9. A person and equipment capable of extinguishing the fire must be in constant attendance at the site while burning.

Alternatives To Burning (back to top)

Composting, chipping and recycling are viable alternatives to outdoor burning that create a resource of air pollution and a solid waste problem.

Composting is an easy and inexpensive way to turn yard and gardening refuse into a useable and valuable product. Compost turns organic matter, like leaves, weeds, and wood chips, into a rich soil conditioner.

Chipping brush, prunings, land-clearing debris and wood waste makes an excellent mulch or substitute for decorative bark. Chips can protect soil and help keep weeds at bay. They can also be used to line garden paths and trails or provide a softer landing under playground equipment.

Recycling / Reuse. Many options are available in our area for wood and building scraps,pallets, cardboard and other paper products, and even some types of plastic. Contact Mason County's Solid Waste department or a recycling coordinator for options in your area. (360) 427-9670 ext. 271.

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