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Residents Can Face Fines For Illegal Burns

O’NEALS – For anyone considering lighting off a debris pile while a burn ban remains in effect across the state, be on notice that the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) takes these violations very seriously. They also see them as a good opportunity to educate the public.

After a full wildland fire dispatch was called up to a property on House Ranch Road on Sept. 14, the property owners were sent a Notice of Violation which could lead to fines for an illegal outdoor burn.

Jaime Holt of the SJVAPCD says the priority of the District is to work with violators to ensure that corrective action is taken so that it doesn’t happen again.

“Our number one goal is to get folks to fully understand the rules, take every action to make sure they don’t break the rules again, and make sure that in the future there are no air quality impacts,” says Holt.

In this particular case, she says the property owner is being very cooperative and has taken full responsibility for the incident.

“He understands what he did wrong and is definitely working with us to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Holt.

In a worst case scenario, residents should be aware that the California Health and Safety Code allows for fines of up to $25,000 a day for significant violations. They could also be liable for the cost to Cal Fire for the response of engines, firefighters and aircraft, and any property damage.

Burn permits are required for any open burn and are available free of charge at your local fire station. Residents need to read and understand all of the conditions when getting a burn permit, and understand the distinction between permissible burn days from the Air District, and a burn ban implemented by Cal Fire due to dangerous fire conditions.

At this time, Cal Fire has suspended all outdoor burning in State Responsibility Areas, so even those with a burn permit are prohibited from burning.

Hazard Reduction Burning is permitted when meteorological conditions are forecasted to be good for smoke dispersal, and that determination is made by the SJVAPCD.  Such burning may be conducted on permissive “burn days” during daytime hours, generally from 9 a.m., and no material should be added to an existing fire after 4 p.m.  Burning at night or on “no burn days” is prohibited.  In addition, Cal Fire may impose fire restrictions and prohibit hazard reduction burning due to elevated risk of fire danger. (Source:

“Burn Days” and “No Burn Days” for hazard reduction burning are determined and reported daily for each county within the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin. You may not burn without a permit, and the phone number to check whether or not it is a burn day in your area is listed on the permit.

District Rule 4106 prohibits the burning any of these materials:

  • Household garbage.
  • Ornamental shrubbery, lawn clippings, and weeds.
  • Vegetable garden residue and family orchard pruning.
  • Lumber, plywood, particleboard, and other manufactured wood products.
  • Painted or stained wood.
  • Roofing materials.
  • Construction or demolition debris.
  • Furniture and mattresses.
  • Plastics.
  • Tires and other rubber products.
  • Paints, solvents, and their containers.
  • Petroleum products, including waste oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel.
  • Electric wire or metal for salvage.
  • Animal carcasses, manure, hay, and animal bedding materials.
  • Anything processed or manufactured.

Using a burn barrel to burn any waste material is illegal.

For complete information on hazard reduction burning, visit the SJVAPCD website.

For more information on the rules and regulations for burning, in District Rule 4106, click here.

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