What is Open Burning?

Open Burning” refers to the burning of any materials where the resulting air contaminants are emitted directly into the air, without first passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. 


What are the regulations regarding open burning?

Open burning is generally considered under 4 criteria: exempt (if applicable), location, quantity, and intent (recreational or disposal).  Locally we can define location as inside City limits (incorporated), outside City limits but within the four-mile jurisdiction of the Evansville Environmental Protection Agency (EEPA) or outside EEPA jurisdiction. Most fires require advanced approval from the EEPA.

The EEPA grants approval for fires and issues applicable permits for open burning.

The EEPA enforces burning regulations found in 326 IAC 4 and EMC 16.05.200.  You may also click on "Burning Regulations" in the menu to the left, or click here for a pdf of "Open Burning Rules."


Generally, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) prohibits all open burning, except for the following, however EEPA requires advance notification for nearly all open burning activities:

  1. Railroad track repair;
  2. Recreation fires, clean wood < 1,000 ft3; > 125 ft3 requires 24-hr EEPA, health department and fire department notification;
  3. Private residential (disposal), in a non-combustible container, except where the building contains > 4 dwelling units, apartment/condominium complexes, and mobile home parks;
  4. Waste oil at wells;
  5. DNR and similar agency prescribed burning;
  6. Marijuana by law enforcement;
  7. For heating purposes between October 1 and May 15, in a non-combustible container;
  8. To create fire breaks by firefighters;
  9. Clean petroleum products for fire extinguisher training (subject to notifications and limits);
  10. Single family, non-demolished structures for fire training by municipal FD’s (subject to notifications and limits);
  11. Ceremonial burning of U.S. flags (subject to notifications and limits);
  12. Emergency burning (with prior approval, written and/or oral);

and in unincorporated areas only:

 Vegetation on farms, orchards, nurseries, tree farms, cemeteries, and drainage ditches;

  1. Wood products derived from pruning or clearing a roadside by a county highway department;
  2. Wood products derived from the initial clearing of a public utility right-of-way;
  3. Wood structures or remnants of demolition on real property.

For open burning not exempted by the above, IDEM may issue a variance (permit) if the amount of material to be burned does not exceed 1,000 ft3;  if > 1,000 ft3 and/or burning of root balls, requires the use of an air curtain destructor, subject to application and approval.  IDEM also regulates incinerators and outdoor wood boilers.



Please do not burn:


Household trash, paper, or plastics

Lawns (burning off zoysia grass, etc.)

Painted, stained, glued, or treated wood; building materials

Root balls or tree stumps (except by air curtain incinerator)



*If you have—an indoor cooking unit, wood stove, or fireplace—its use is NOT regulated under current ordinances. 

However, you are not allowed to use indoor units to dispose of trash or other hazardous materials.



*The following types of fires DO NOT require advance approval from the EEPA:


For picture examples of these types of fires, click here.


Outdoor cooking grills (LP, natural gas, kerosene, white gas, charcoal, Sterno, or clean wood)

Stationary (built-in) patio fireplaces

Portable patio fire bowls



Those who use the above types of equipment are asked not to burn during Air Quality (Ozone or Particulate) Alerts. Please postpone grilling/burning until air quality improves. Under certain conditions, patio fire bowls and Chimineas may be prohibited during burn bans.  Always check the latest press release for specific details about a burn ban.



All other open burning requires advance approval, and other regulations may apply. Please call or visit the EEPA at (812) 435-6145 during regular business hours (M-F, 8am-5pm) to obtain advance burn approval, or additional information about burning options and exemptions.


Special note: Open burning may be PROHIBITED within mobile home parks, apartment complexes, condominium complexes, and similar multi-family dwellings. Please ask the property owner about restrictions and rules pertaining to your place of residence, before calling us for burn approval.


Please report illegal burning, such as burning trash or leaves to the EEPA at 435-6145 during normal business hours.  After hours, on weekends and holidays, you may leave a detailed message on our telephone answering machine.  If the fire appears to be an emergency, a hazard, or is a clear nuisance, please call 9-1-1 and alert us as well.


Last updated: 6/3/2013 3:15:03 PM