Outdoor Burning

Outdoor Fires

Outdoor fires are never permitted during air quality or fire safety burn bans. Visit the websites of Snohomish County Fire Marshal or WA Burn Bans to see if an air quality or fire safety burn ban is currently in place.

Outdoor fires are banned in most areas in Snohomish counties. Fines for illegal fires typically start at $2,000 plus the cost to reimburse the fire department for their response efforts. In Arlington, it’s always illegal to:

  • Burn trash
  • Use a burn barrel
  • Smoke out your neighbor
  • Burn yard waste

The following may be allowed under certain circumstances:

Recreational Fires

Recreational fires are defined as cooking fires and charcoal barbecues, campfires and bonfires in designated areas or on private property for cooking, pleasure or ceremonial purposes. Fires lit in chimineas, fire pits, fire bowls and similar free-standing devices (except burn barrels) fall under this definition. They are allowed in both urbanized and unincorporated areas.

Native American Ceremonial Fires

State law defines these as fires "necessary for Native American ceremonies (i.e., conducted by and for Native Americans) if part of a religious ritual." If you wish to have a Native American ceremonial fire outside of tribal lands, you must have a permit from the local fire district. These permits will not be granted during air-quality burn bans and fire-safety burn bans.

Outdoor Fire Regulations

When you burn, follow these regulations:

  • Keep it small. Fires must not exceed three feet in diameter or two feet in height.
  • Fuel it right. Only charcoal, dried firewood or manufactured firelogs may be used. It is illegal to burn anything else.
  • Stay clear of structures. Check with your local fire department regarding setback requirements.
  • Stand guard and extinguish. A person capable of extinguishing the fire must attend it at all times, and the fire must be extinguished before leaving it.
  • Ask first. Permission from a landowner, or owner’s designated representative, must be obtained before starting a recreational fire.
  • Mind the ban. Recreational fires are always prohibited during air-quality burn bans. They may also be prohibited during a fire-safety burn ban (check with your local fire district.)
  • Be a good neighbor. It is always illegal to smoke out your neighbor. If smoke from your fire bothers your neighbors, damages their property or otherwise causes a nuisance, you must immediately put it out.

Burn Bans

Air Quality vs. Fire Safety Burn Bans

Air quality burn bans are issued and enforced by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency when air pollution levels rise to unhealthy levels. Air quality burn bans typically occur during colder fall and winter months. Visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for more on Air Quality Burn Bans.

Fire safety burn bans are issued by the Snohomish County Fire Marshal when dry weather conditions heighten the risk of wildfires. Fire safety burn bans are generally called during the summer and can last for several months. For more on fire safety bans, visit the Snohomish County Fire Marshal or visit waburnbans.net.

List of the three types of burn bans and the agency responsible for declaring