Burn bans are just that – a ban on burning which is enforced by state law. Burn bans are based upon not only the immediate predicted weather conditions but also the long term weather forecast, the condition of the wildland fuels, current fire behavior, and fire occurrences.

What types of burn bans are there?

There are county issued burn bans and Governor proclaimed burn bans. A Governor proclaimed burn ban supersedes county burn bans. Governor burn bans do not have to be for the entire state but can also be placed on individual counties as needed. 

What is the criteria used to proclaim a burn ban?

There are different criteria for county issued burn bans and state issued burn bans.  For links to the data sources click here. County burn ban criteria is a subset of those used by OFS to recommend a Governor proclaimed ban.  The intent is to make it easier for county burn bans to be issued and removed (allowing for rapid changes in local conditions).

County commissioners determine the need with the advice of the county's fire chiefs.  The criteria are:

  • Drought rated moderate or higher as determined by NOAA and
  • No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast by the National Weather Service and
  • Fire occurence is significantly greater than normal for the season or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior and
  • More than 20 percent of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burns or controlled burns (or types of items eliminated by the resolutions)

In addition to evaluating county burn ban criteria, OFS uses additional data related to the wildland fuels conditions and predicted fire behavior to determine the need for a state issued burn ban. These criteria are found on the "Fire Weather and Fuel Criteria" page of this website.

What are the differences in length and penalties between the two types of burn bans?

County-issued burn bans are passed by a vote of the county commissioners.  The resolution can be for up to 30 days in length.  Any person convicted of a violation of a county issued burn ban shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500, imprisonment for up to one year or to both.

State-issued burn bans are proclaimed by a resolution signed by the Governor.  Requests for the proclamation are made to the Governor by the Forestry Services Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry through the Secretary of Agriculture.  State-issued burn bans remain in place until conditions improve (as determined by State Forestry).  Any person convicted of a violation of a state issued burn ban shall be guily of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $1000, imprisonment for up to one year or to both.

Who is responsible to enforce burn bans?

Any law enforcement officer in the state may enforce both county and state issued burn bans.