What are Burn Permits? And where do I get one?

What are burn permits?

To help residents keep up with the removal of burnable debris on their properties, the State of California allows open burning piles in some areas. A burn permit is a document stating you’ve obtained permission to have an open fire on your property and that you understand the rules and responsibilities to have that fire. It affirms you have been told it is a safe time of year for such a fire and you are familiar with safe burning practices

What’s “open burning?”

“Open burning” refers to any fire lit outdoors, whether you’re planning to burn yard debris or have an overnight campout and hot dog roast in your backyard. In California, firepits also fall in the “open burning” category and are prohibited if they don’t meet certain criteria at both the state and local levels. Check with Butte County before installing a firepit on your property.

Why do I need a burn permit?

Having a burn permit confirms you’ve complied with local authorities about current limits regarding burning, you’re familiar with safe burning practices, and you’ve agreed to abide by local burning ordinances. It’s also helpful for local authorities to know where and when burning is happening, so they can stagger the times and locations of burns. Too many fires in close proximity can produce unhealthy levels of smoke, adversely affecting a neighborhood’s air quality.

Does Butte County require fire permits?

It’s always safer to assume you need a burn permit. There are days when CAL FIRE allows open burning without a burn permit within their jurisdiction. However, CAL FIRE is not the only burn permit authority; based on where you live, you need to check locally to see if there are any specific requirements in place for your individual community. Fire conditions are subject to change fairly quickly, so please always err on the side of caution by asking.

Reminder: even if it’s a valid burn day, you could be held responsible if you lose control of your burn if weather conditions aren’t favorable. It’s advisable to check the air quality for conditions before burning: visit bcaqmd.org or call 530-332-9407.

What makes a day a “burn day?”

Aside from the fact that it’s a burn day because the people in charge say it is, a burn day is most often one when the temperature, humidity, and winds are such that people can have open fires on their property with minimal risk of those fires becoming wildfire ignition points.

Where do I get a burn permit?

Where you live determines what kind of burn permit you’ll need and where to get one. Click on the name of the city or town to find out.

City of Chico

  • Burning is not permitted within the city of Chico; therefore, there are no burn permits.

Town of Paradise

There are two types of burn permits for the Town of Paradise

  • Residential Burning
  • Fuel Reduction

City of Oroville

  • Residential Burning

City of Biggs

Burn permits are required year-round.

City of Gridley

Burn permits are required year-round.

In the unincorporated areas of Butte County (CAL FIRE jurisdiction)

  • Residential Burning: Outdoor burning at a single or two-family dwelling unit or residence.
  • California Campfire Permit: Campfire, portable stove, or another open burning outside an official campground or recreational area.
  • General Burning: Larger scale burning projects performed by a state agency or the agricultural industry for reasons including removing/reducing fire hazards such as downed trees or improving wildlife habitats.
  • Broadcast Burning: Controlled application of fire to a section of land; also called controlled burn or prescribed fire.

No matter where you live, be sure to confirm with Air Quality if it’s a Permissible Burn Day.

How do I safely burn my landscape debris?

  • Create a section of bare ground (away from trees and shrubs) at least 10 feet in diameter.
  • Set your burn pile at the center of your bare ground.
  • Make sure your burn pile is no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet.
  • Keep a supply of running water and a shovel close at hand.
  • Have an adult present at the burn site (required by law).

As long as you observe all proper caution, and adhere to all local ordinances and advisories, your burn permit will allow you to literally fight fire with fire by eliminating debris that could easily ignite during a wildfire event.

Learn more about Burn Permits here.