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Backyard Burning

Daily Burn Announcement

The DEQ has a website with information specific to Benton County and obtaining a permit for certain types of backyard burns (and a list of materials that may never be burned).  For information about what can and cannot be burned, click here to open the website; choose Benton, and answer the questions about where you live in relationship to the city limits of Philomath or Corvallis. 

Smoke and other pollution complaints are managed by DEQ - click here to open their complaints webpage.

If you wish to receive the Willamette Valley Open Burn Announcement daily advisory by email, follow this link. Simply follow the directions on their website to sign up.  The enrollment section you're looking for looks like this:

May contain: word, text, page, label, and document

 Please note that there may be local restrictions for our County and/or Department - that information will be on this website (for example, burn bans).

Tips for Safe Burning

  • Fire needs to be in a designated fire pit or landscaped area.
  • Make sure there is a responsible person present constantly.
  • Have a fire extinguisher, water, or sand within easy reach to extinguish or control the fire.
  • Keep the fire smaller than 3 feet in diameter and don't let flames rise higher than 2 feet.
  • With campfires, extinguish the fire completely (cool to touch).

If the fire becomes a hazard to life or property, it must be extinguished immediately.  Drown the fire with water and make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. The fire must be constantly attended until fully extinguished.  When in doubt - call 9-1-1.

Call the Burn Line after 8:30 AM for the times burning is allowed: 541.929.5903.

Oregon Open Burning Guide (a publication from the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality)

Burning Regulations in the Willamette Valley (a publication from the Oregon Department of Agriculture)

Fire Danger Levels - The Oregon Department of Forestry has put together an interactive map of the fire danger levels in your area. Click here to access that information.

Burn Waiver for Recreational Fires

May contain: nature, outdoors, yard, fire, backyard, and flame

Summary: A recreational fire is a fire at your residence that is used for the purpose of cooking, warming, or similar recreation. A waiver is required from the Fire District - complete the form below to complete a waiver. It is not backyard debris burning which is regulated by the DEQ (see above for that information).  Please note that there may be days when all burning is prohibited (the exception is BBQ grills).

More information: A Recreational Fire waiver is issued for people to have a warming fire or small cookout fire in an approved fit pit, made of non-combustible material (brick, stone, pre-fab metal, etc.), no larger than 3’ in diameter, and cleared of any other combustible material for at least 3’ from the burn area.  There should be a means to extinguish the fire (water hose, shovel/sand, extinguisher, etc.) within 10’ of the fire.  Fire with active flame must be attended to at all times.  Fires should be extinguished when complete, or left to self-extinguish only in the case that there is minimal material left, the material is well contained, no open flames, and the fire is not generating a lot of smoke. Burning materials are limited to charcoal or clean wood (not scrap lumber), and flames should be less than 2’.  It is not recommended to burn on high wind days or any time when embers can escape, and when burn ban season is in effect, all waivers are revoked.

Care should be taken to limit the amount of smoke produced by the fire (clean, dry, seasoned wood or charcoal will give off the least amount of smoke; wet wood will produce a lot more smoke).  Days when the air pressure is low will cause smoke to lay more to the ground instead of dissipating into the air – take that into consideration.  Nothing should be thrown into the fire other than wood or paper to start the fire.  Trash cannot be put into the fire at any time. Children should be supervised and not allowed to throw anything into the fire.

There are no other codes or ordinances in place to monitor these kinds of fires.  We created these guidelines to ensure the safety of having warming/cook fires for community residents.  They are similar to guidelines used by other agencies in the County.  It is left to the individuals and their neighbors to work out any issues.  People should seek out legal advice in the cases where a nuisance is created, or through their landlord in the case of community property.  The Fire Department does not get involved in local legal matters or neighbor complaints.  9-1-1 should never be called unless there is an emergency:  fire spread, people burned or injured – in other words, an imminent danger to life and property.

Recreational Fires may be subject to burn bans in extreme fire danger conditions. If you are going to have a recreational fire on your property, we request that you complete the Recreational Burn Waiver and follow the above listed Tips for Safe Burning.  If you have questions about this, please call us at 541.360.0030. If you are outside the city limits, you may want to check with ODF to see if they have recommendations or requirements for burning or machinery usage in your area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit for my recreational fire?
No, but you do need a waiver. — Follow the guidelines above. You don't even have to call and tell us you are having a recreational fire - just complete the waiver form.  A waiver and site visit may be required for large bonfires.

Can I build a permanent fire pit on my private property? 
Yes — the dimensions should be no larger than 3 feet inside diameter.  It should be made of rock, brick or similar non-combustible materials.

What am I allowed to burn in my recreational fire?
You can burn only dry firewood or use charcoal.  Wood must be contained inside the fire container.

Are there times I can't have a recreational fire?
Recreational fires are not allowed during extreme dry weather or when windy conditions exist.  You may still have a recreational fire even if it is a no burn day for backyard burning.

Can I have a large bonfire on my private property?
No — your fire needs to stay small enough that it can be controlled.  It may not be larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet in height from the deepest area.  If you require a larger bonfire for a special one-time event, please contact the Fire District office for a waiver and to schedule an inspection of the site.  Large bonfires must be placed at least 50 feet from any structure.

Can I have an open campfire on my private property? 
Campfires are a form of Recreational Fire outside the urban area (City Limits). Campfires are subject to a permit from ODF if within ODF protected lands. The guidelines for campfires include the provisions that they are at least 25 feet away from any structure or other combustibles.  You need to make sure the area around the fire is cleared of anything that could catch fire (dry grass, dry brush).  Any conditions that could cause a fire to spread to a structure or field must be removed prior to ignition.  The campfire has to be in a designated or self-made fire pit in a landscaped area — not in the woods.

Black chimnea with fire burning, placed on cement pavers

Can I use an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or chimenea on my residential property?
Yes — it should be located at least 15 to 25 feet from a structure and needs to set on a non-combustible surface (dirt, sand, bricks, cement, etc.).

Can I use a chimenea or fire bowl on my wood deck?
The fire district does not recommend doing so.  Always follow the manufacturer fire safety instructions included with your unit.

What about slash/agricultural burning?

Agricultural Burning, or 'Slash' Burning, is separate from Backyard Burning and it has its own burning rules and times.  Slash Burning is managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Their phone number is 541.929.3266.