Benton Clean Air Agency

Frequently Asked Questions about Outdoor Burning

What are some alternatives to burning?

Information on Alternatives to Burning is here.

My residence is inside the Urban Growth Area (UGA) of Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Prosser, or Benton City, can I burn?

The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) required that residential and land clearing burning in urban growth areas of cities larger than 5,000 be banned as of January 1, 2001. For cities smaller than 5,000, such as Benton City, outdoor burning was allowed until January 1, 2004. However, as of January 1, burning is now banned in the UGA of Benton City as well. Recent changes in the State law have further defined what types of burning can or cannot take place within the urban growth areas. Based on these changes, the following is a summary list of the applicable rules for burning in the urban growth areas of Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Prosser, and Benton City.

If you are unsure as to whether you are inside or outside the Urban Growth Area (UGA), you may search your address here

You may also call the Benton County Planning Department at 736-3086 (Tri-Cities) or 786-5612 (Prosser), or contact our office at 783-1304 .

PROHIBITED

  • burning yard debris (leaves, branches, etc.) at your property
  • transferring material from Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Prosser, or Benton City to outside the UGA for the purpose of burning the material
  • the use of burn barrels
  • burning for land-clearing purposes
  • burning tumbleweeds that are growing on your property
  • burning garbage, dead animals, asphalt, petroleum products, paints, rubber products, plastics, paper (other than what is necessary to start the fire), cardboard, treated wood, construction debris, metal, or any substance (other than natural vegetation) which when burned releases toxic emissions, dense smoke, or odors.” (WAC 173-425-050(2))

ALLOWED WITH A PERMIT

  • burning a recreational fire greater than 3 feet in diameter.

ALLOWED WITHOUT A PERMIT

  • burning a recreational fire that is less than 3 feet in diameter
  • burning tumbleweeds that blew on to your property

Can I burn? My residence is outside the Urban Growth Area.

If you are unsure as to whether you are inside or outside the UGA, you may search your address here

You may also call the Benton County Planning Department at 736-3086 (Tri-Cities) or 786-5612 (Prosser), or contact our office at 783-1304.

If you have confirmed that your residence is outside of the urban growth area, you may burn under the residential burning rules.

In 1995, the Washington State legislature changed some of the burning rules and how they were applied in different parts of the State. For those residents outside of the UGA, the following rules apply:

PROHIBITED

  • burning garbage, dead animals, asphalt, petroleum products, paints, rubber products, plastics, paper (other than what is necessary to start the fire), cardboard, treated wood, construction debris, metal, or any substance (other than natural vegetation) which when burned releases toxic emissions, dense smoke, or odors.” (WAC 173-425-050(2))

PROHIBITED AS OF JAN 1, 2001

  • the use of burn barrels

ALLOWED ON A BURN DAY You must have a burn day before you may burn. The burn message, updated by 9 AM, is 509-783-6198.

  • Only material generated at your residence can be burned.
  • Only dry, natural vegetation can be burned. Burning paper (other than enough to start fire), plastic, lumber, building debris, and garbage is strictly prohibited.
  • Someone must be in attendance of the fire at all times and be able to put out the fire if necessary.
  • No fires are allowed within 50 feet of any flammable structure.
  • The pile size is limited to 4 ft by 4 ft by 3 ft high.
  • Only one pile can be burned at a time. Continually feeding material into one fire is OK.
  • The fire must be extinguished if it creates a nuisance.
  • You can only burn at your residential property or the property owner’s permission must be obtained prior to burning.
  • Your fire must be completely extinguished by the end of the burn day.

ALLOWED WITH A PERMIT

  • burning for weed abatement (including tumbleweeds growing on your property)
  • burning a recreational fire greater than 3 feet in diameter.

What is an “Urban Growth Area” and how do I know if my residence is inside or outside?

The applicable open burning regulations depend upon where the property is located with respect to the “Urban Growth Area”, or UGA. The urban growth area (UGA) is defined by a line that the incorporated cities (Richland, Kennewick, West Richland, Benton City, and Prosser) expect to grow into during the next 20 years. The UGA includes all the city limits, the “islands” of County within the cities, and some parts of County land immediately adjacent to the city limits. Those properties that lie inside of this boundary have different burning rules than those properties lying outside the boundary. If you are unsure as to whether you are inside or outside the UGA, you may search for your address here

You may also call the Benton County Planning Department at 736-3086 (Tri-Cities) or 786-5612 (Prosser), or contact our office at 783-1304.

Urban Growth Area Maps are here.

I can’t meet some or all of the burn rules, is there another way I can burn legally?

Many of the burn rules are, in many cases, restrictive by design. By creating these rules, the State can reduce the amount of burning taking place in the urban areas, reducing both air pollution and fire risk. However, there are circumstances where the BCAA can allow an individual or company to burn outside of these rules.

A Special Burn Permit may be issued under specific circumstances. The permit has an associated fee that is assessed in two parts. First, there is a $75 non-refundable application fee that must accompany the written application. This allows the BCAA Inspector to process the application and if necessary, inspect the materials to be burned prior to burning. The application can either be accepted or rejected at this point. If accepted, there is an additional charge of no more than $8.50 per cubic yard of material to be burned.  The fees must be paid within 30 days of the permit being issued.  A permit is issued that is specific to the applicant’s type of burning. The permit conditions often will allow more “burn days” than would be available under the urban are spring and fall burn windows.

If you would like to apply for a Special Burn Permit, the application is Special Burn Permit Request along with the fee, to the BCAA. If you have any questions, please contact us.

How does the BCAA determine whether or not to allow a “burn day”?

Information on how the daily burn decision is made is here.

“What about burning” answers to these questions are found here:*

  • tumbleweeds blown on to my property?
  • tumbleweeds that are growing on my property?
  • in a woodstove, barbecue, or fireplace?
  • for recreation (campfire or bonfire)?
  • in a burn barrel?
  • construction debris on my property?
  • on my small/hobby orchard?
  • on a lot or area that is a fire hazard?

How do I build a good, hot fire, that does not produce a lot of smoke? The Boy Scouts of America recommend when burning a fire:

1. Use dry, seasoned wood. Do not burn material that has just been cut or has been soaked by moisture. 2. Use a mixture of material of different sizes and thickness. Start with small tinder: like dry moss or really dry pine needles. Next, put kindling into the fire. Kindling are small pieces of wood no larger than the width of one of your fingers. Arrange your third and last material, the “fuel” (larger material), in a teepee type style. Put a break in the pattern, like a door to the teepee, facing into the wind. This break allows the breeze to blow into the fire and creates a hotter, more efficient fire. 3. Light your fire with matches, no fuel (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) should be necessary, through the door of the teepee. Start by lighting the tinder, the tinder will then catch the remaining material on fire. Add material as the fire burns hot and quickly.

My property is zoned agriculture. Do I follow the open burning rules or the agricultural burning rules?

State law views residential burning and agricultural burning as two separate issues, both with associated laws. In order to qualify an agricultural burn permit you must show evidence of agricultural activity taking place, usually in the form of supplying a copy of the IRS form Schedule F: Profit and Loss from Farming. Only those operations with proof of an agricultural operation will be issued an agricultural burn permit. The zoning regulations are local regulations and do not apply to burning applications. Areas which are zoned agriculture, but do not supply this proof, must comply with the general rule burn rules and the “burn days”.