Outdoor Burning

  • East Multnomah County burn line: 503-618-3083

    Always call the burn line before burning.

    The City and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) govern all outdoor burning.

    There are 10 allowable backyard burn days in the spring and 10 in the fall, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, if DEQ deems burning is allowed for those days.

    DEQ open backyard burning information 

    • Violation of burning and air quality regulations may be subject to citation or fines from the City and DEQ.
    • Property owners may be held liable for firefighting costs or damage to neighboring property or structures because of unsafe burning practices.
    • To report illegal or unsafe burning, call 503-823-3333.
    • For smoke or nuisance-related complaints, call 503-618-2355.

    Types of outdoor burning

  • Backyard burning

    Burning is not allowed:

    • If it creates a public or private nuisance
    • Is a safety hazard
    • When it unreasonably interferes with enjoyment of life or property
    • On commercial properties

    Materials that cannot be burned in Oregon

    • Rubber products
    • Tires
    • Plastic
    • Garbage
    • Petroleum and petroleum-treated materials
    • Asphalt or industrial waste
    • Any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors
    • Construction materials
    • Stumps

    Yard debris burning guidelines

    Always call the Gresham Burn Line at 503-618-3083 before burning to confirm DEQ is allowing burning.

    • There are 10 allowable burn days in the spring and 10 in the fall, falling on Wednesdays and Saturdays, if burning is deemed allowable by the DEQ for those days.
    • Burn piles must be no larger than 6 feet in diameter and 3 feet high.
    • Burn piles must be 25 feet from any combustible materials (houses, fences, etc.).
    • Burn piles must be attended by a competent person at all times.
    • You must have a means to extinguish the fire (energized garden hose, fire extinguisher, shovel, etc.).
    • Burn piles must contain only yard debris from your yard; no other material may be burned.
    • Burn piles must be extinguished if wind gusts reach 15 mph.

    Fire pits

    • Fire pits are for recreational use only.
    • Fire pits can accommodate fires no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high.
    • Fire pits must be attended at all times.
    • You must have a means of extinguishing the fire.
    • The fire must be 15 feet from flammable material (house, fence, etc.)
    • You may only burn hardwood or fireplace logs in a fire pit: no garbage, yard or construction debris.
    • Fires must be extinguished if wind gusts reach 15 mph.
    • If the fire causes excessive smoke and complaints are made by neighbors, the fire must be extinguished.

    Barbecues at apartment complexes

    • Local fire code prohibits the use of charcoal or propane barbecues on apartment balconies or porches, unless the area is protected by a fire sprinkler system or all adjacent surfaces are non-combustible.
    • An exception to this requirement is electric or hibachi-style barbecues that use 1-pound propane cylinders. These are allowed when kept well away from combustible building surfaces and are unplugged, or the cylinder removed, when not in use.
    • Larger propane barbeques and those using briquettes may be used if they are on ground level, at least 10 feet away from combustible materials, are attended to by an adult at all times, are fully extinguished and cooled prior to moving back to their storage area, and the propane bottle is disconnected for storage.
    • Check with your apartment manager to learn about rules specific to your building.
    Agricultural burning

    Please note:  this application can only be picked up directly from the Fire Department

    A permit may only be obtained if:  

    • The farm or business is at least 5 acres in size.
    • The business is 51% or more of household income.

    Permits are good for five years from the date of issuance if these conditions are consistently and strictly followed:

    • Permit holder shall call the Burn Line at 503-618-3083 after 8 am daily and shall burn only on valid days and during stated hours.
    • No standing vegetation shall be burned.
    • No vegetation or combustible materials shall be allowed within 6 feet of all burn piles.
    • Rubber products, tires, plastic, garbage, petroleum or petroleum-treated materials, asphalt or industrial waste, construction materials or any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors shall not be burned.
    • Piles shall be held to a maximum pile size of 12' diameter by 8' height.
    • Fire-extinguishing equipment shall include any of the following elements capable of appropriately controlling and extinguishing the fire under any condition:
      • Waste barrels with buckets.
      • Sand or dirt with shovels.
      • Garden hose minimum ½" in diameter with a maximum of 150' length with nozzle turned on and readily available or other adequate water supply such as water barrels or water trucks.
      • A fire extinguisher.
    • A continual fire watch shall be provided to patrol the burn pile(s) and shall have no other duties beginning prior to the ignition and continuing for one hour after any open flame and smoldering ceases.

    If you don't meet these requirements, you can burn during backyard burn days or apply for an open burning permit.

    Open burning

    Open burn application

    A permit is required to conduct an open burn for any type of land clearing or major lot natural debris disposal. 

    A site plan must be submitted seven days before the planned burn. 

    • Open burns shall not be conducted within 50' of a structure and provision shall be made to prevent the fire from spreading to within 50' of any structure.
      • Exception:  When piles are 3' or less in diameter and 2' or less in height, the minimum distances may be 25'.
    • Conditions that could cause the fire to spread to within 50' or 25' of a structure, as appropriate to the size of burn pile, shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
    • Open burn pile shall be limited in size to a maximum of 10' in diameter and 6' in height in urban areas, and 12' in diameter and 8' in height in agricultural areas.
    • No standing vegetation shall be burned.
    • Vegetation or combustible materials within 6' of all side of a burn pile shall be cleared away.
    • The following shall not be burned: 
      • Rubber product
      • Tires
      • Plastic
      • Garbage
      • Petroleum or petroleum treated materials
      • Asphalt or industrial waste
      • Construction materials
      • Any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors
    • A continual fire watch shall be provided to patrol the burn pile(s) and shall have no other duties beginning prior to the ignition and continuing for one hour after any open flame or smoldering ceases.
    • Fire extinguishing equipment shall include any of the following elements capable of controlling and extinguishing the fire in any condition:
      • Garden hose minimum ½" diameter with attached nozzle and maximum length 150', turned on with no leaks and readily available
      • Water barrels with buckets
      • 4A fire extinguisher
      • Water tender
    • All fires shall be extinguished immediately if:
      • Winds exceed 15 mph
      • Any representative of the Fire Department determines the fire to be a hazard or verifies the conditions of approval are not being met
    • The permit holder shall call 503-618-3083 after 8:00 am daily and shall burn only during approved days and hours, without exception.
  • Backyard burning alternatives

    Backyard burning is only recommended for those without the ability to dispose of yard debris in another way.

    While backyard burning is allowed on certain days, it negatively impacts air quality and can be harmful to sensitive populations, including children, the elderly and people with asthma. 

    The City's yard debris collection program offers weekly pickup of leaves and branches four inches or less in diameter. Read more about the City's recycling resources for information on yard debris.

    Other disposal options