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​​​​​​​​​​​​​Learn Before You Burn 

Kentucky has laws to protect public health from outdoor or open burning. Before you light that burn pile, make sure you are doing so in a safe and legal manner. This list provides a quick summary of what you can and can’t burn under Kentucky’s open burning regulation. Always check local ordinances, which may be more stringent than state regulations.

Report Illegal Open Burning

Submit a complaint online by using the Complaints Form​. The form allows you to report complaints anonymously, but you may wish to leave your contact information if you would like an inspector​​​ to follow up with you on your complaint.​ ​​​​In order for inspectors to investigate, you'll need to provide an address where the suspected illegal burning has taken place. Learn more about making an air quality complaint on our Air Pollution Complaints page.

What can I burn?

Except when a fire emergency is declared, small wood fires for warmth, cooking and camping are generally permitted across Kentucky. In some areas, local ordinances may require a burn permit first; always check with your local government before burning.

Wood bonfires, burning natural growth from land clearing, agricultural plant beds, and prescribed burning for land management are generally permitted throughout the year except for the counties listed below during ozone season.

What Can't I Burn? 

Most materials are illegal to burn outdoors because they emit harmful air pollutants. Plastics, food scraps, treated or painted wood, tires, and most household trash items are illegal to dispose of by burning. This list details what you can and can’t burn, and our open burning brochure explains Kentucky's open burning regulation in easy-to-understand language. Violating state air quality regulations could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day.

Open Burning Pollutes the Air You Breathe 

A single backyard burn barrel can emit a surprising amount of harmful pollutants, including:
   • Fine particulate matter
   • Nitrogen oxides that lead to ground-level ozone pollution
   • Volatile organic compounds
   • Carbon monoxide
   • Cancer-causing chemicals such as dioxins and furans

Fire Emergency Restrictions 

All open burning is prohibited when a fire emergency is declared. Check the Division of Forestry's county burn ban page for the most up-to-date information on county burn bans.

Fire Hazard Season Restrictions

Oct. 1 – Dec. 15 and Feb. 15 – Apr. 30: Burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland area is allowed only in the evening hours between 6 pm and 6 am.

Ozone Season Restrictions

From May 1 through September 30, open burning in Boone, Boyd, Bullitt, Campbell, Jefferson, Kenton, Lawrence (partial), and Oldham counties is restricted to protect air quality. 

During ozone season, outdoor burning of household rubbish, brush, tree limbs, leaves and natural growth from land clearing are not permitted in these counties. Open burning is restricted year-round in Jefferson County, not just during ozone season. Read the informative press release to learn more.

Ozone season restrictions to open burning apply only to a small portion of northeastern Lawrence County; contact the Ashland Regional Office​​ at 606-929-​5285 for specific boundaries.

Spread the Word

Want to help educate others about open burning?  Our "Learn before You Burn" brochure explains what you can and can't burn in an easy-to-read format. Contact us to order free copies.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
300 Sower Blvd
Frankfort, KY 40601

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