Outdoor Burning

Green banner that says "Burn Ban Lifted"

View the Texas Outdoor Burning Rules by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Outdoor Burn Checklist

  1. Verify that there is not a burn ban in place (see the top of this page).
  2. Verify that you meet one of the exceptions below:
    1. A fire used for firefighter training, with proper notice to TCEQ;
    2. A fire used for recreation, ceremony, non-commercial cooking, or warmth during cold weather;
    3. A fire used to dispose of domestic waste generated at a private residence if burned inside a burn barrel;
    4. A fire used to dispose of a diseased animal carcass;
    5. A fire used for on-site burning of trees, brush, grass, leaves, branch trimmings, or other plant growth by the owner of the property;
    6. A fire used to burn crop residue for agricultural management purposes when no practical alternative exists;
    7. A prescribed burn for forest, range, wildland management, and wildfire hazard mitigation.
  3. If you meet one the above exceptions, you may conduct an outdoor burn, but must follow the rules below:
    1. Burning must be outside the corporate limits of a city or town (unincorporated area);
    2. Burning may only be conducted when the wind direction and other meteorological conditions are such that smoke will not cause adverse effects to any public road, landing strip, navigable water, or off-site structure containing sensitive receptor(s);
    3. If at any time the burning causes smoke to blow onto or across a road or highway, it is the responsibility of the person initiating the burn to post flag-persons on affected roads;
    4. Burning must be conducted downwind of or at least 300 feet (90 meters) from any structure containing sensitive receptors located on adjacent properties unless prior written approval is obtained from the adjacent occupant with possessory control;
    5. Burning must start no earlier than one hour after sunrise;
    6. Burning must be completed on the same day not later than one hour before sunset (burn piles should be small enough to guarantee compliance with this rule);
    7. Surface wind speeds must be between six and twenty-three miles per hour (6 - 23 mph);
    8. Burning shall not be conducted during periods of actual or predicted persistent low level atmospheric temperature inversions (causing the smoke to settle like fog, instead of rising into the sky);
    9. Disposal of domestic waste must be conducted inside a burn barrel with a mesh screen to prevent embers from leaving the barrel;
    10. The fire shall be attended by a responsible party at all times;
    11. A means of controlling and extinguishing the fire shall be present at all times;
    12. Contact dispatch at 469-376-4500 to notify them of a controlled burn (not required for recreational, ceremony, cooking, or warmth);
    13. An operational permit must be obtained from the Fire Marshal's Office for any outdoor burning used for commercial purposes (clearing land).

If you cannot meet the requirements above:

Take your items to an approved solid waste disposal site to be property disposed of.

It is always illegal to:

  1. Burn electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, non-wood construction/demolition materials, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes, and items containing natural or synthetic rubber. These items should be taken to an approved solid waste disposal site.
  2. Burn domestic waste on the open ground (not inside a burn barrel with mesh screen).
  3. Conduct a controlled burn at night (does not apply to fires for recreational, ceremony, cooking, or warmth).

Potential Consequences

  1. Violation of the Burn Ban (any fires intentionally ignited during a burn ban).
    • Class C Misdemeanor
  2. Violation of the Clean Air Act (if any of the rules listed above are not followed).
    • Individuals may be fined between $1,000 and $50,000 and/or 180 days in jail.
    • Businesses may be fined between $1,000 and $100,000.
    • Repeat offenders may be fined or confined for up to double the maximum penalty listed above.
  3. Illegal Dumping (burning domestic waste on the open ground instead of inside a burn barrel).
    • Class C Misdemeanor (up to 5 pounds or 5 gallons of waste)
    • Class B Misdemeanor (5 - 500 pounds or 5 gallons to 100 cubic feet of waste)
    • Class A Misdemeanor (500 - 1,000 pounds or 100 - 200 cubic feet of waste)
    • State Jail Felony (more than 1,000 pounds or 200 cubic feet of waste)
  4. Reckless Damage or Destruction (intentionally starting a fire which then causes damage to property).
    • Class C Misdemeanor
  5. Arson
    • State Jail Felony (intentionally starting a fire which then causes damage to a building or causes bodily injury or death)