Open Burning

Open burning is defined as a fire where any material is burned on the ground or in an open receptacle other than a furnace, incinerator, or other equipment connected to a stack or chimney. Campfires are considered open burning.

Some recreational burning is allowed under strict conditions. All other open burning without a permit is prohibited in Montgomery County, and fines of $500 per day may be imposed. Chapter 3 of the Montgomery County Code and Maryland regulations (COMAR 26.11.07) place restrictions on open burning.  

Recreational Burning

Recreational Fires: Small recreational fires, such as small bonfires or campfires. Burn only dry, aged, natural wood, no larger than 3 feet in diameter, in a location free of combustible materials, and attended by an adult with fire-extinguishing equipment (water).

Salamanders, torpedo heaters, or similar devices: Burn only propane, kerosene, or No. 2 fuel oil at construction sites.

Cooking Fires: Used for residential cooking only in an outdoor cooking apparatus.

Chimineas and outdoor manufactured fireplaces: Burn only dry, aged, natural wood. These devices, which can be purchased at local home and garden retailers, have become increasingly popular. They should have a non-tipping base, a screen enclosure, and a spark arrestor, and they should be placed on a noncombustible surface at an adequate distance from any nearby structures.


Recreational Burning Guidences

The following items may not be burned in the County at any time:

  • Household trash 

  • Tires

  • Construction debris

  • Asphalt shingles and tar paper

  • Leaves, lawn thatch, and garden trimmings

  • Green brush and other fresh or dried plant life (except certain agricultural materials)


Burning with a Permit

Under specific circumstances and with the appropriate permit, some open burning is allowed, including the burning of agricultural debris, large bonfires for special ceremonial activities and official fire department training:

  • Burning of agricultural debris directly related to the commercial production of livestock, food, or fiber on land that is assessed as agricultural by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. By state regulation, between June 1 and August 31, agricultural burning is restricted to the burning of excess lodging for the purpose of recropping as verified by MDA. Open burns for agricultural purposes must take place at least 1,500 feet from an occupied off-site building, facility or public roadway.
  • Bonfires or recreational or ceremonial fires larger than 3 feet in diameter. Bonfires or recreational or ceremonial fires larger than 3 feet in diameter must take place at least 1,500 feet away from occupied buildings, property lines, or roadways.

For an agricultural burn permit, contact the Department of Environmental Protection by email at or by phone at (240) 777-0311. Provide your name, daytime telephone number, and email address and the purpose of the open burn. You might be subject to a site visit from a County Compliance Officer.


Current Permitted Burns


Disposal Alternatives for Material That Can't Be Burned


Why Are There Prohibitions on Open Burning?

  • The  air pollution created by open burning can directly affect the health and well-being of people who live or work near the burn sites by aggravating respiratory conditions, irritating eyes and lungs, obscuring visibility, and creating annoying odors. Smoke is dangerous for people with respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia because it can aggravate the symptoms of these diseases. 
  • Air pollution from open burning can also cause property damage to nearby residential and commercial property.
  • Open burning contributes to regional air quality problems by releasing fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and air toxics. 

Report an Open Burning Violation

To report outdoor air quality violations, use the  County's online form or by calling 311.