Outdoor Burning

Current Burn Bans in Effect

Last updated: February 25, 2023

  • City of Bellingham & Urban Growth Areas (UGAs):  Only recreational fires are allowed.
  • Unincorporated Whatcom County:  No burn ban in effect at this time, contact county’s Outdoor Burning Information Line at 360-778-5903
  • Lummi Nation:  No burn ban in effect at this time; go to www.lummi-nsn.gov for more information.

Recreational Burning

Washington State law prohibits all open burning within the city limits of Bellingham, Urban Growth Area, and Whatcom County Fire District 8. However, limited recreational burning is allowed when a more restrictive burn ban is not currently in effect. Recreational burning requirements within the City Limits of Bellingham & the Urban Growth Area include:

  1. A fire may not be ignited, and must be extinguished, if an air pollution episode, impaired air quality condition, or fire danger burn ban that applies to the burning, is declared for the area.1,2
  2. The fire must not include prohibited materials, yard debris, construction/demolition debris or any substance other than seasoned firewood and charcoal.1
  3. The fire must not include materials hauled from another property.1,3
  4. If any emission from the fire is detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of any person, if it causes damage to property or business, or if it causes a nuisance, the fire must be extinguished immediately.1,2
  5. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times and the fire must be extinguished before leaving it.1,2,3
  6. No fires are to be within twenty-five (25) feet of structures or combustible materials.2
  7. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within twenty-five (25) feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.2
  8. Permission from a landowner, or owner’s designated representative, must be obtained before starting an outdoor fire.1
  9. Any fire must not have a total fuel area greater than three feet in diameter and/or two feet in height.1,2
  10. Only one fire at a time may be burned, and each fire must be extinguished before lighting another. 1
  11. A minimum of one 4-A portable fire extinguisher or other approved on-site fire-extinguishing equipment, such as dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose shall be available for immediate utilization.2
  12. If an outdoor container is used for burning, it must be constructed of concrete or masonry with a completely enclosed combustion chamber and equipped with a permanently attached spark arrester constructed of iron, heavy wire mesh, or other noncombustible material with openings not larger than one-half inch.1,3
  13. No fire is permitted within five hundred feet of forest slash.1
  14. All portable outdoor fireplaces shall be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.2
  15. Portable outdoor fireplaces shall not be operated within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material. This particular rule does not apply one- and two-family residences.2

(1) Northwest Clean Air Agency, Regulation 502.5(b)
(2) 2009 International Fire Code, Section 307
(3) Washington Administrative Code 173-425-050

Outdoor burning and wood stove use are regulated by the Northwest Clean Air Agency. If you have any questions concerning a wood stove burn ban due to weather conditions, call Northwest Clean Air Agency at (360) 428-1617.