Burning inside Austin and Burn Bans

Burn ban - What is a burn ban?

A burn ban is exactly what the name implies – no outside burning of any kind for a period of 60 (sixty) days from the day the ban is issued or until it is lifted by the County Judge. Open burning at this time is considered extremely dangerous to people, buildings, trees and grasslands and violations are very serious, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.

The city Burn Ban is set by the County Judge not by the fire departments. To determine if the County of Lonoke is under a burn ban, please check the link below for further details.

Counties Currently Under Burn Ban Map

The only items that can be burned when there is NOT a burn ban is yard waste, tree limbs, leaves.
Items that can NOT be burned are: paper, treated lumber, house hold rubbish.

Open burning

 Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Regulations 

 Open burning of yard waste is strongly discouraged, but permissible. 

Act 1151 of 1997 (which went into effect August 2, 1997) strongly discourages open burning of yard waste and encourages residents to recycle this waste. Open burning of yard waste is allowed, but can be limited.

What is yard waste?

Yard waste is defined by law as grass clippings, leaves and shrubbery trimmings collected from residential property. This does not include household waste.

Who can burn?

Any resident of Arkansas is allowed to burn yard waste.

Is this an absolute right? Can anybody burn yard waste regardless of what anyone else thinks or says?

  • No. Local authorities, such as the city council or county officials can place local restrictions on open burning. Local authorities may also set up a permit procedure that requires residents to get a permit from the county courthouse or city hall or the fire department before burning yard waste. Also, several state and federal agencies can issue burn bans that stop burning because of weather conditions or potential hazards.
  • And there are other reasons burning can be stopped. As outlined in the new law, open burning can be prohibited in a particular area of the state or throughout the entire state when:
    • It becomes a local nuisance.
    • It creates a fire or safety hazard.
    • It pollutes the air and the ADEQ believes it will create a situation whereby the National Ambient Air Quality Standards could be exceeded in a given area.

Who can stop a citizen from burning yard waste?

State and local officials. Complaints about air pollution caused by open burning of yard waste should be filed with the ADEQ at:

ADEQ Air Pollution Complaint Form

Nuisance, fire and safety complaints should be filed with the Benton Fire Department.

What happens when a complaint is filed?

If local or state officials find that opening burning of yard waste is:

  • A persistent offense to neighbors;
  • A fire hazard to surrounding property; or
  • A safety hazard.

then state and/or local officials can take steps to ensure the fire is extinguished and possibly issue a ticket or a fine.

General Precautions against Fire

  • Open burning; bonfires or recreational fires must be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished.
  • A charged garden hose, fire extinguisher, water barrel, dirt or sand must be readily available for utilization.
  • The location for open burning shall not be less than 50 feet from any structure, and provisions shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading within 50 feet of any structure. However, the minimum required distance from a structure can be minimized to 25 feet, if the pile is 3 feet or less in diameter and 2 feet or less in height. Conditions which could cause the fire to spread to within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
  • Fires in approved containers maybe no less than 15 feet from a structure.
  • Bonfires and Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material unless the bonfire is contained within a barbecue pit. Conditions which could cause the fire to spread to within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.