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 may be issued for groups of counties, or for all counties.

What is the criteria used to proclaim a burn ban?

There are different criteria for county-issued burn bans and Governor-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.  Prior to passage of a burn-ban resolution, the board of county commissioners must declare the existence of extreme fire danger.  As defined in law, extreme fire danger means:

  • Severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions exist within the county as determined by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)
  • No more than one-half inch of precipitation is forecast for the next three days by the National Weather Service
    Either of the following: 
  • Fire occurrence 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
  • Where data is available, more than 20 percent of the wildfires in the county have been caused by escaped debris burns or controlled burns.

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 Governor-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.

Governor-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 Governor-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 Governor-issued burn bans.