Residential Burning

Knowing What You Can & Cannot Burn, Knowing Why That's Important

What Is Residential Burning?

Residential burning is the use of an outdoor fire to dispose of the following:

  • Vegetation
  • Untreated wood
  • Clean Paper
  • Clean cardboard

Residential burning is allowed only on the property of a one or two family dwelling in which the material burned originates.  Burning is allowed only on permissive burn days. Call (209) 754-6600 for burn day information.

What Cannot Be Burned?

Materials that CANNOT be legally burned include but are not limited to the following:

  • Household garbage
  • Painted or stained wood
  • Plywood, particleboard or OSB
  • Roofing materials
  • Construction and demolition debris
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Diapers
  • Plastics
  • Tires and other rubber products
  • Tar paper
  • Insulation
  • Paint, paint cans or containers
  • Waste oil
  • Electrical wire
  • Glass bottles and cans
  • Animal carcasses, urine or feces

Burning Illegal Materials Causes Air Pollution

Smoke from residential burning is an uncontrolled source of air pollution.  Smoke generated at ground level can affect those conducting the burn, their families and neighbors.  Not only can smoke be a nuisance, it can affect your health.

Burning illegal materials exposes people to unhealthy air.  Immediate health effects my include burning and itching eyes, shortness of breath and asthma attacks.  Long-term effects may include respiratory disease, lung damage, cancer and premature death.

In 1997 an U.S. EPA study characterized emissions from burn barrels.  Based on this study consider the following statistics:

  • The average person in California generates 900 pounds of waste material each year.
  • There are approximately 523,000 people in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.
  • 1/4 of the people in this area burn their waste material.
  • 15 pounds of particulate matter would be emitted per person equaling 980 tons per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.
  • 0.0034 pounds of volatile organic compounds would be emitted per person equaling 444 pounds per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.  This includes toxic compounds such as benzene, styrene and toluene.
  • 4.5 pounds of semi-volatile organic compounds would be emitted per person equaling 294 tons per year in the Mountain Counties Air Basin.  This includes compounds such as phenol and naphthalene.
  • Other pollutants emitted include chlorobenzenes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes and ketones, dioxins and furans, PCBs and metals.

Help Keep Our Air Clean

When burning, remember to follow these simple requirements:

  • Call the burn line prior to lighting a fire at (209) 754-6600
  • Burn only on permissive burn days.
  • Contact your local fire agency for their burn requirements (209) 736-4081
  • Burn only legal material.
  • Burn only dry material.
  • Watch where your smoke is going.  Burn only when smoke moves away from neighbors.

Burning Illegal Materials And Burning On A No-burn Day May Lead To Costly Fines.

Consider alternatives to burning such as composting, chipping, mulching, and/or recycling through your local landfill or disposal service.

The air in our communities will be cleaner for us to breathe with your cooperation.

Information provided by: Mountain Counties Air Basin Technical Advisory Committee.