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Open Burning on Indian Reservations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

EPA Region 10 recommends avoiding open burning and the use of prescribed fire while the COVID-19 virus continues. Read our full statement about burning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check burn ban status before burning

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What's open burning?

Open burning is where the smoke, gases, chemicals, and other products from burning enter the air directly, without first going through a chimney, flue, vent, or other similar path (for example, an outside fire pit.)

Why is it important to control open burning?

Open burning releases toxic chemicals into the air, including dioxinsHelpdioxinsA group of harmful chemical compounds that are released into the air from combustion processes such as commercial or municipal waste incineration and from burning fuels such as wood, coal, or oil., which are known carcinogens. Outdoor garbage fires are the nation's leading source of dioxins. Smoke from open burning also contains pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, lead, and mercury. These pollutants can increase cases of asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory and heart diseases. 

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Who do these requirements apply to?

This rule applies to anyone who conducts open burning within one of the 39 Indian reservations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington specified in the FARR. The rule also applies to the owner of the property where open burning takes place.

If you live on the Nez Perce Reservation or the Umatilla Indian Reservation, see tribal burn permit programs. You may be required to obtain an EPA burn permit from the tribe before burning.

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What types of fires are exempt?

The rule does not apply to the following activities:

  • Outdoor fires set for cultural or traditional purposes.
  • Fires set inside structures such as sweat houses or lodges for cultural or traditional purposes.
  • Campfires or other fires set for recreational purposes as long as no banned materials are burned, and no burn ban has been issued.
  • Open outdoor fires used to train firefighters (requires permission from the EPA), as long as no burn ban has been issued.
  • Outdoor fires (one each year) for fireworks disposal (requires permission from the EPA), as long as no burn ban has been issued.
  • Open burning that is ordered by a public health official to dispose diseased animals or other material, as long as no burn ban has been issued.

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What am I allowed to burn? 

Open burning is allowed for these materials:

  • Paper, paper products, or cardboard used to start a fire
  • Paper, paper products, or cardboard that is produced at a single-family residence or at a building with four or fewer apartments or housing units
  • Yard clippings, brush, and other vegetation.

Open burning is not allowed for these materials:

  • Garbage, dead animals, or parts of dead animals
  • Junk motor vehicles or salvage operation parts and materials
  • Tires or rubber materials and products
  • Plastics, plastic products, and Styrofoam
  • Asphalt or roofing (shingles) or any other material or product that contains asphalt
  • Tar, tarpaper, petroleum products (including oil, gas, and grease), and paint
  • Paper, paper products, or cardboard not used to start a fire; not produced at a single family residence; or not produced at a building with four or fewer apartments or housing units
  • Treated lumber and timbers
  • Construction waste or demolition waste
  • Chemical insect and pest killers, weed and plant killers, fertilizers, or other chemicals
  • Insulated or coated wire, batteries, and light bulbs
  • Materials that have mercury, such as thermometers
  • Asbestos or material that contains asbestos
  • Waste that can cause disease
  • Hazardous waste
  • Any material that makes dense smoke or strong fumes when burned

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Best practices for open burning

  • Keep material as dry as possible.
  • Separate material that will not burn, as much as possible.
  • Make sure a natural or artificial draft (moving air) is present.
  • Keep burning material off the grass or peat layer when possible.
  • Do not let the fire smolder (burn slowly with no flame).

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Training Fires

Fire protection services (e.g. local fire departments) may request permission to conduct an outdoor burn by qualified personnel to train firefighters on fire suppression and fire fighting techniques. See Training fires for Fire Protection Services for more information. 

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