Burn Ban Information
The City of Oak Harbor and its Urban Growth Areas have been designated as permanent burn ban areas since January 1, 2001. This means that residential and land-clearing burning was permanently banned within the city limits and urban growth areas.
To find out what alternatives to burning are available in your area, visit the Northwest Clean Air Agency website or call 360-679-7350 in Island County.
There are several different types of burn bans:
- A burn ban due to impaired air quality is announced when air pollutants are measured at unhealthy levels. No outdoor burning is allowed during this period.
- A burn ban due to high fire danger is announced by fire officials during extended periods of dry weather.
- A permanent burn ban prohibits all residential and land-clearing fires in cities and urban growth areas.
For Burn Ban Information: 360-428-1617, ext. 4.
Definitions of Burning Types
- Recreational fires are three feet in diameter or smaller, consist only of charcoal or firewood; and are used for cooking or pleasure. Permits are not required within the City of Oak Harbor for this type of fire.
- Residential fires are for disposal of leaves, clippings, and other yard and garden debris generated on-site. All residential fires in Island County require a verbal permit, call 360-679-7350 to obtain a permit.
- Land-clearing fires are for disposal of natural vegetation generated from land clearing projects and require a written permit.
General Outdoor Burning Rules
WAC 173-425, RCW 70.94, NWCAA Regulation 502. If you live in an area where burning is allowed and choose to burn, please follow these guidelines:
- What can be burned? - It is only legal to burn natural vegetation.
- Burn barrels - Burning in barrels is prohibited statewide.
- Nuisance - Smoke, odor or ash that unreasonably impacts neighboring properties is illegal.
- Construction and demolition debris - Materials resulting from construction, renovation or demolition projects cannot be burned.
- Check permit requirements.
- Check weather - Don't burn during periods of air stagnation or when the winds exceed 7 miles per hour.
- Check the burn ban status before burning.
- I live in Oak Harbor; can I have a fire in my backyard?
Yes and no. Recreational fires are allowed; but land-clearing fires are not allowed (includes burning of yard debris). For yard debris pick up, please contact City of Oak Harbor Public Works or see this list of alternatives to burning yard debris by the Northwest Clean Air Agency.
Within the city limits of Oak Harbor, and it's Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) recreational fires three feet in diameter or smaller are allowed and do not require a permit if all the following conditions are met:
- Recreational fires consist only of charcoal or firewood and are used for cooking or pleasure
- The fire is in an enclosure no larger than 3 feet across. The enclosure must be a minimum of 16 inches high and made of cement block, stones or Number 10 gauge steel
- Materials being burned must be kept lower than the sidewalls of the enclosure
- A charged garden hose or 2, five-gallon buckets of water must be on site
- A shovel or rake must be on site
- The fire must be 25 feet from any standing timber
- Tree branches must be cleared to the height of 15 feet above the enclosure
- One person age 16 or older who is capable of putting the fire out must be in attendance at all times
- The fire must be contained within a firebreak (bare ground)
- The landowner's permission must be obtained if not on your property
- The smoke from your fire must not negatively affect your neighbors. If the fire department is called, you will be asked to put your fire out
- Prior to burning, check Island County's Burn Ban status by calling the Northwest Clean Air Agencies Fire hotline: 360-428-1617, ext. 4 or visit the Northwest Clean Air Agency website
- I suspect that someone is burning illegally, how do I make a complaint?
There is a permanent burn ban within the City of Oak Harbor and its urban growth areas (UGAs). This means that residential burning of yard, garden and land clearing debris is illegal.
Note: Small recreational fires, burning firewood, in approved fire pits, are allowed as long as they do not negatively impact neighboring properties.
If you suspect that someone is burning illegally, you can call the non-emergency dispatch number: 360-679-9567. Contact 911 immediately if there is excessive smoke or you suspect the fire may be out of control.
- What are the current burn regulations?
Washington State law permanently banned land-clearing and residential burning within the City of Oak Harbor and its Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) (PDF) as of January 1, 2001.
Some residential burning is allowed in Island County:
- Burn Ban Information: 360-428-1617, ext. 4 or 360-679-7350
- Recreational, Residential and Land-Clearing Information: 360-679-7350
- For local outdoor burning regulations and information view the Northwest Clean Air Agency website: http://www.nwcleanairwa.gov
Did you know:
- Burning garbage/trash has been illegal in Washington since 1967
- You may be charged a fee if the fire department is called out to your fire due to illegal burning
- Where burning is allowed, written permits are required for all fires over 4 feet in diameter. Verbal permits are required for fires less than 4 feet in diameter. Call 360-679-7350 for a verbal permit
- The Fire Warden must inspect all land-clearing burn piles prior to burning (permit required)
- The Washington State Department on Ecology has published a very informative website (including a list of frequently asked questions about outdoor burning)