Debris Burning and Permits

Lassen-Modoc-Plumas Counties:  Burn Ban Lifted Friday October 14th, burn when safe to do so and when permissable (air quality).


Sierra and Yuba counties: Please see their AQMD and/or CALFIREwebsites  


Butte County:                       


For more information on burning, visit the CAL FIRE website at

Watch Debris Burning Video:


Residents wishing to burn MUST verify it is a permissive burn day prior to burning by calling their local Air Pollution Control District.

  • Lassen County – (530) 257-2876 or 257-BURN
  • Modoc County – (530) 233-6401 or (530) 640-2900
  • Plumas County –
    • Portola: (530) 832-4528         Quincy: (530) 283-3602
    • Greenville: (530) 284-6520   Chester: (530) 258-2588

Safe residential pile burning of forest residue by landowners is a crucial tool in reducing fire hazards. State, Federal and Local land management and fire agencies will also be utilizing this same window of opportunity to conduct prescribed burns aimed at improving forest health on private and public lands.


For more information on burning, visit the CAL FIRE website at


General Information on Debris Burning:


Only You Can Prevent WildfiresDon't Burn on Windy Days


General Information

Debris burning on private land in California is administered by CALFIRE.  Permits can be obtained from CALFIRE, at some US Forest Service offices or through local government and/or fire departments.

During fire season, the warm dry months of summer, a burn ban is imposed by CALFIRE to eliminate risk of a burn pile escaping and becoming a wildfire.

Man burning a pile in his yard

(Picture of man raking and burning pine needles, 10' of clearance)

Burning Regulations and Permits


  • Maximum pile size 4 foot diameter
  • Larger piles may require on-site inspection from fire personnel and Air Quality Management District personnel, especially if burning commercially generated debris.
  • Area within 10 feet of outer edge of pile shall be maintained free and clear of material and vegetation.  Creating this zone prevents fire from coming out and creating a wildfire.
  • Adult must be in attendance with a shovel until the fire is dead out.
  • Water supply is required at burning site.
  • No burning shall be undertaken unless weather conditions (particularly wind) are such that burning can be considered safe.
  • At any time you must call Air Quality Management District in your area to find out if it’s a permissive burn day.  This is an air quality regulation and in no way reflects safe burning conditions—be aware of dryness and wind that have made debris burns become wildfires—you may be liable for destruction and associated costs of suppression if your  debris burn escapes.  Escaped debris burns are the number one cause of human caused wildfires on the Plumas National Forest area.
  • These conditions are California State Laws which you agree to follow when you sign the permit.

Where to get burn permits:

  • Available from CALFIRE, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices or may be obtained from local fire departments or cities.
  • The Plumas National Forest issues burn permits under an agreement with CALFIRE.
  • Permits are available at Forest Service Ranger Stations.  See addresses on left.
  • City of Portola residents must obtain their permits at Portola City Hall.
  • Residents in Butte and Yuba Counties can also contact your local CALFIRE station for permits.
  • American Valley Residents in Quincy may have different burning regulations. Contact the Mt. Hough Ranger Station or Quincy Fire Department for specific information.

Burn Hours:

  • November thru April are open burning hours (providing it is an air quality permissive burn day).
  • May has open burning hours with burn permit (providing it is an air quality permissive burn day).
  • June hours are restricted, see burn permit for specific hours (providing it is an air quality permissive burn day).

Prohibited Burning Practices:

  1. Burning without a permit. 
    You must have a permit on site when required and you must follow all permit terms.
  2. Violation of permit requirements.  Note 'Regulations' above.
    Burning out of hours in the month of June will result in an emergency fire dispatch to your home as reported by our fire lookouts. You may be cited, and charged for the personnel and equipment time.  Remember, in the month of June; only burn debris amounts in the pile to have it out by the hour specified for your county.  Piles are not allowed to smolder beyond this time, and must be dead out.
  3. Failure to attend or extinguish your fire.
    You must be in attendance of your pile burning at all times or have it fully extinguished prior to leaving it.  Most escape burn piles are from not being carefully watched until extinguished.  Do not assume your pile will just die out.  Extinguish it with water and stir until you can run the back of your hand through the ashes.
  4. Burning on a “no burn day”.
    Your permit is only valid on days in which it has been determined by the California Air Resources Board (air quality), to be a permissive burn day. Please call prior to igniting your burn pile.
  5. Use of a burn barrel.
    Burn barrels have been banned in most counties by the State of California for health reasons.

You can be held liable for Wildfires!

Suppression Costs

Any person who sets fire(s) on any land, or allows fire(s)  to be set to property owned  or otherwise, and allows it to become a wildfire or escape the burn pile, shall be liable for all expenses incurred in the suppression of the fire by any county, state, or federal agency having jurisdiction in which the fire occurred.

Civil Liability for Damages

Any person, whose property is damaged or destroyed by fires, may recover, in a civil action, the value of timber, natural or man-made resources which suffered, from persons causing such fires.

What can you burn?

Pile burning:
Only vegetative material that you cleared from around your house can be burned.  No furniture, garbage, plastics or painted wood is allowed!  Material other than vegetation is illegal to burn, citations may be issued for burning plastics, etc.

California law prohibits burning following materials:  (any non-natural materials, this is only a partial list of prohibited materials)

Plywood Furniture Plastics Rubber tires Construction Debris
Styrofoam Asphalt shingles Treated lumber Insulation  
Paints Metal Motor Oil Tar paper  

What can individuals do instead of burning yard waste?


Reduces smoke pollution, creates rich, fertile soils, reduces landfill waste, easy and effective way to dispose of leaves and pine needles, contact your local cooperative extension for more information.
Caution: Be sure your compost pile is in a safe cleared area and monitored for heat especially during hot dry conditions. Wildfires have occurred from these piles under these conditions.

Chipping and Shredding:

An effective treatment of limbs, branches, leaves, pine needles and vegetation. Creates valuable landscaping material used for mulch and weed abatement.
Chipping and shredding service may be free in some areas. Contact your local fire safe council for more information at


Contact your local waste management company or lumber mill for disposal opportunities.

Cover Your Burn Piles

 (Picture of man covering debris pile with plastic)

Tips on Burning

Debris burning is encouraged during the winter and spring while conditions are wet and fire danger is low. Reducing the chances of a burning pile becoming a wildfire is important. 
Green vegetation should be dried 3-6 weeks before burning.

Cover your pile with plastic to keep it dry.  Then uncover it and burn when the surrounding ground is wet. Piles will create less pollutants (and smoke) when burning dry material.   In the spring, wait for a rainy or overcast day.  Extinguish pile if not in attendance.

Do Not Burn When Windy!

The number one cause of human started wildfires is escaped debris burns.  These happen when a weather front creates windy conditions, especially during dry periods.  You may be liable for suppression costs, receive a citation or more if your pile escapes and becomes a wildfire.