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Green Forest

Outdoor Burning Law

South Carolina law regulates outdoor burning in unincorporated areas. Except within town or city limits, anyone planning to burn outdoors must:

  1. Notify the Forestry Commission before starting the fire

  2. Clear a firebreak around the area to be burned

  3. Have adequate tools, equipment, and personnel on hand to control the fire

  4. Stay with the fire until it is completely safe.


* Violation of this law can cost more than $250 in fines and court costs.

It is also against the law to allow a fire to escape and burn someone else’s property. Conviction under this law can result in fines and fees of more than $460. The person responsible for the fire may also be sued for damages in civil court.

Woods arson is deliberately setting someone else’s woodland on fire without the owner’s permission. It is a serious crime. Depending on the circumstances, a woods arsonist may be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The Arson Hot Line (1-800-92-ARSON) is a confidential way for citizens to report any arson incident, including woods arson. Sponsored by the Independent Insurance Agents of South Carolina and administered by the State Law Enforcement Division, the Hot Line pays cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and indictment.

When the threat of wildfire approaches dangerous levels, the Forestry Commission may issue a special warning called a Red Flag Fire Alert. A Red Flag Alert does not prohibit burning; it is a public warning that outdoor burning could be more dangerous than normal. Usually the Red Flag is accompanied by a suggestion to postpone burning until the fire danger decreases.

The Governor or the State Forester may issue a legal ban against certain types of burning when fire danger becomes critical. When such a ban is in effect, anyone starting fires covered by the ban is subject to fines and fees of more than $250.

The Forestry Commission has trained and duly commissioned law enforcement officers to enforce the forest protection laws. These officers are equipped with weapons, handcuffs, and other law enforcement gear and have full power of arrest under South Carolina law.


New Open Burning Rules are in effect: (July 2004)

SC’s new regulations on open burning are in effect. Under these new open burning regulations, it is illegal to burn: Household garbage and trash; Paper; Motor and waste heating oils; Tires and other rubber products; Plastics; Paints; Household cleaners; Farm chemicals; Electrical wire; Construction waste from commercial development;

No construction waste may be burned during the ground-level ozone season, which begins April 1 and ends October 30.

Allowed burning under this rule includes: fireplaces, camp-fires, outdoor barbecues and bonfires for festivals and other occasions. Yard trimmings may be burned if local ordinances allow it and it does not cause a public nuisance.


Residential Yard Debris Burning

State law requires that you notify the Forestry Commission prior to burning outdoors. In most cases, the law applies to burning leaves, limbs and branches that you clean up from your yard. The notification law does not apply within town or city limits.
The toll-free numbers below allow you a quick, easy way to make your yard debris burning notification. Just dial the appropriate number, listen to the message, and leave your name, address and phone number. 800 517-9640 for Whitney Community. See the Forestry web site for other counties.

The law requires that you clear a firebreak around the burning site and have the right equipment available to keep the fire under control. You must also stay with the fire until it is completely safe.

In addition to state laws regulating outdoor burning, there may be other local ordinances. Be sure to check these before burning.

If you are burning anything outdoors other than small yard debris and leaves, you are probably burning illegal. Getting a permit to burn does not give you permission to burn. This permit only notifies the Forestry Service that you are burning. You are still responsible for any damages that occur.



48-35-10. Starting fire in woodlands, grasslands, and other places shall be unlawful unless certain precautions are taken.

It shall be unlawful for any owner or lessee of land or any employee of such owner or lessee or other person to start, or cause to be started, a fire in any woodlands, brush lands, grasslands, ditch banks, or hedgerows or in any debris, leaves or other flammable material adjacent thereto, except under the following conditions: 

(a) Proper notification shall be given to the State Forester, or his duly authorized representative or other persons designated by the State Forester. The notice shall contain all information required by the State Forester or his representative. 

(b) Such persons shall have cleared around the area to be burned and have immediately available sufficient equipment and personnel to adequately secure the fire and prevent its spread. 

(c) The person starting the burning shall supervise carefully the fire started and have it under control prior to leaving the area.


Make sure to check SC DHEC Regulation 61-62.2 and Whitney Community regulations!!

Smoke from outdoor burning can pollute the air and cause health problems. That is why there are State laws to limit outdoor burning.

It is illegal to open burn: Household garbage and trash; Paper; Motor and waste heating oils; Asphalt materials (shingles, tar); Tires and other rubber products; Building materials unless burning untreated wood at a construction site; Plastics; Paints; Household chemicals; Agricultural chemicals; Electrical wire, or any material for its metal content.

Remember if you start a fire you are responsible for any damages that occur.

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