Residential open burning is the burning of leaves, tree branches, yard trimmings, logs, and stumps that originate from your residence. It is Only allowed in the cities or townships that do not provide yard waste pick-up. View Open Burning Policies for Towns/Cities Incorporated in Forsyth County.

The burning must start no earlier than 8:00 a.m. and no additional combustible material may be added to the fire between 6:00 p.m. on one day and 8:00 a.m. on the following day.

Open burning of leaves, tree branches, and yard trimmings must not create a nuisance. A nuisance means ".. causing physical irritation exacerbating a documented medical condition, visibility impairment, or evidence of soot or ash on property or structure other than the property on which the burning is done." The person burning should take every precaution to assure that neighbors are not adversely affected by open burning activity. Creating a nuisance is a violation of the code.

It's illegal to burn anything other than vegetation!

Residential Open Burning Regulations

In addition to the information stated above, residential open burning is prohibited under the following conditions. Some first time offenses can result in fines that range from $100 to $2,000. Additional violations can incur penalties up to $25,000 per violation per day.

  • Commercial or business establishments are prohibitied from any open burning unless they are undergoing a land-clearing operation and complying with the strict regulations that apply to that type of activity. They may not do any burning of vegetation for maintenance purposes.
  • No open burning is allowed when a Burning Ban or an Air Quality Alert is in effect. An Air Quality Alert is issued when a Code Orange or above is forecasted or is occurring for either Ozone or Particulate Matter. A burning ban or ozone alert supercedes all other regulations that may otherwise allow for open burning. The burning bans are authorized through the Forsyth County Fire Dept. and/or the N.C. Division of Forest Resources when atmospheric conditions or local circumstances make burning hazardous.
  • Burning of manmade debris (trash, construction materials, etc.) is unlawful in the state of North Carolina, regardless of how or where it is burned. Garbage pick-up is provided to all Forsyth County residents either as a service or for a modest charge. Additional information can be obtained by calling your local government or local waste carriers.
  • If yard waste pick-up is provided, it is illegal to open burn. For example, the City of Winston-Salem provides yard waste pick-up inside its City limits, therefore no burning is allowed. Contact your local government for more information. Any violations can result in a Notice of Violation with a fine. View Open Burning Policies - for Towns/Cities Incorporated in Forsyth County.
  • It is illegal to open burn any matter that is not generated on the site of your residence. It must be burned at the place of your residence only. You may neither bring vegetative material onto your site of residence to burn nor take material from your site of residence and burn it elsewhere.

View Flow Chart for Compliance to Open Burning Regulations

NCDFR logoIn addition to meeting the Forsyth County regulations relating to Open Burning, a permit is also required by the N.C. Divison of Forest Resources. Go to the Online Burning Permit System.

For additional information, contact:

  • Forsyth County Fire Department: 703-2550
  • N.C. Division of Forest Resources: 767-7269
  • Winston-Salem Fire Department: 773-7900

For more information or to report an open burning problem, call us at 703-2440.

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