Open Burning

openburningOpen air burning is an outdated cultural tradition. Kentucky’s open burning rules allow for some materials to be burned, but many materials are illegal to burn. Illegal burns are subject to a fine of up to $25,000. The rules limit when and where you can burn.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

A lot of open burning isn’t necessary. Brush could be composted, piled up for wildlife or just left to decompose. Newspapers could be recycled. Your old attic junk could be given away for someone else to reuse. By making a few sensible choices, you could reduce the amount of throw-away material you create in the first place. The possibilities are endless.

It’s the law.

Violating state air quality regulations could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day.
401 KAR 63:005. Open burning.

Kentucky Division for Air Quality rules do allow certain types of open burning: campfires, barbecues, small fires for warmth, burning plant matter from clearing your own property and wood bonfires on festive occasions.

Do not add tires to a fire. It is illegal to burn: tires and other rubber products; wire; treated, painted or finished wood; plastics; garbage; heavy oils; asphalt materials; building materials, especially those containing asbestos; paints; and agricultural and household chemicals.

You should be aware that, in addition to Division for Air Quality rules, other state and local regulations may apply. For example, the Kentucky Division of Forestryand the State Fire Marshal’s Office have regulations aimed at ensuring a blaze does not spread.

Fire Season

October 1st to December 15th and February 15th to April 30th

It shall be unlawful for any person to set fire to, or to procure another to set fire to, any flammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within one hundred fifty feet (150') of any woodland or brushland, except between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., prevailing local time, or when the ground is covered with snow.  KRS 149.400.


Keep Your Burn Pile from Starting a Wildfire!

  • Clear vegetation for 10 feet around your burn pile. Keep your burn pile small and controllable.
  • Be prepared just in case. Have a source of water (hose or bucket) and a shovel nearby.
  • Stay with your fire until it is dead out, even at night. Never leave it unattended.

Red Flag Warning

When certain weather conditions are met the National Weather Service will issue a Red Flag Warning. The Red Flag criteria for Kentucky are listed below.

10-Hour Fuel Moisture < 8%
plus one or both of the following:
Relative Humidity < 25%
Winds > 25 mph

Obtaining Fire Weather

The best place to obtain fire weather information in Kentucky is on the Web page of the National Weather Service – National Fire Weather Page.

The “Open Burning Learn Before You Burn” brochure gives additional information of the Division for Air Quality’s rules and regulations on open burning. (See Quick Links here)

If you would like to file a complaint or would like more information on open burning you can call 1-888-BURN-LAW or e-mail:

For information about current burn laws in Shelby County or to register and open burn, contact Shelby County Fire at (502) 633-6648.

For emergencies dial 9-1-1 !