Open Burning in El Paso County

Stage I Fire Restrictions in Place for Unincorporated El Paso County

Due to the continued dry conditions and the National Weather Service forecast for continued dry and warmer than normal weather resulting in very high to extreme fire danger ratings, Sheriff Bill Elder has ordered Stage I Fire Restrictions for all of the unincorporated areas of El Paso County.  The Stage I Fire Restrictions shall go into effect immediately and the following are prohibited:

1.  Open fire and open burning, except;
        a.  Fires and campfires within permanently constructed fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds, or private residences in areas cleared at least 3’ of all flammable materials.
        b.  Fires in developed campgrounds and picnic grounds, or private residences contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves, fire pits or appliances; liquid propane (LPG), or natural gas; cleared at least 3 feet of all flammable materials, with flames lengths not exceeding 2 feet.
       c.  Fires for which a permit has been obtained by the local fire protection district dating after the restriction date.
2. The sale or use of fireworks. 

3. Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren of and cleared of all flammable materials.

The Stage I Restrictions shall remain in effect until such time the restrictions are modified pursuant to El Paso County Ordinance #21-001. The full text of the ordinance can be found here: Current Fire Restrictions 

Colorado air pollution control laws and regulations prohibit open burning throughout the State unless a permit has been obtained from the appropriate air pollution control authority. In granting or denying any such permit, El Paso County Public Health shall base its action on the potential contribution to air pollution in the area and weather conditions on the day(s) of such burning.

  • Open Burning Permit applications must be submitted by 11:00AM on the last regular workday prior to the proposed burn date.
  • Open Burning Permits may be approved for the purpose of disposing of untreated natural wood or slash (sticks and branches no greater than 4 inches in diameter), dry leaves, dry grass, dry weeds, and other similar dry natural vegetative materials.
  • Open Burning Permits may also be approved for broadcast burns of 10 acres or less of grass, OR 5 acres or less of other vegetation. 
  • Open Burning Permits will not be approved for the purpose of disposing of trash, garbage, tree stumps,  treated wood, pallet wood, lumber, construction material, demolition debris, chemicals, plastic, or any substance which, if ignited, may release toxic materials. Such materials must be properly recycled, reused or disposed of at an approved landfill.
  • Open Burning Permits are not required for recreational fires, agricultural open burning, noncommercial cooking of human food, prescribed burning approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or for training fires meeting the requirements of NFPA Standard 1403.

Standard Open Burning Conditions:

During publicly announced periods of AIR POLLUTION EMERGENCY or ALERT, all open burning permits are suspended in the affected areas.

No open burning is allowed when the El Paso County Fire Warden has declared a ban on open fires.

Each day that a proposed burn will take place, the permit holder shall notify:

  • El Paso County Public Health - for weekend or holiday burns, notification shall be provided on the preceding business day prior to 12:00pm.
  • The appropriate fire department or district, as well as the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, prior to ignition and after extinguishing the open burn.
  • All adjacent landowners, including those separated by a road or right of way.

Burning shall be restricted to the item(s) and location identified in the permit.

  • Only clean, dry wood and/or natural vegetative material(s) with a diameter of not more than 4 inches may be burned. 
  • It is prohibited to open-burn certain wood-bearing items including: tree stumps, most construction materials, and pallets.
  • It is prohibited to burn any material that is not wood. 

Open burning of vegetative materials for disposal must be conducted in an open pile configuration no larger than 8 ft. wide X 8 ft. long X 8 ft. high. Fire containment vessels of any type, including "burn barrels", are prohibited for open burning.

Ignition of materials shall occur between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. ("Ignition of materials"- includes both starting a fire and adding more material to an existing fire.) All fires must be completely extinguished by no later than sunset.

At no time shall the burn be left unattended. Burning shall be supervised by one or more responsible persons depending on the type of burning. Precautions shall be taken to localize the burning and in no way constitute a fire hazard to persons or property within or adjacent to the area of burning. The granting authority and the employees or agents thereof, in the issuing of a permit, do not assume any responsibility for any actions that result in damage to the person or property of the permit holder or any other person.

This permit is for compliance with air pollution requirements only and is not a permit to violate any existing local laws, rules, regulations, or ordinances regarding fire, zoning, or building.

Before igniting an open burn, a fire safety open burning permit from the El Paso County Fire Warden is also required in accordance with El Paso County Ordinance 19-001. El Paso County Public Health forwards all air quality open burning permits to the El Paso County Fire Warden for review. 

The permit holder is responsible for obtaining any additional permits and/or clearances from any appropriate fire control office, local agency, or other official prior to submission of this permit.

The permit holder, permit holder’s employees, agents, and assignees shall abide by all conditions and restrictions of the permit. Failure to comply will render the permit null and void. 

Applications are reviewed by a qualified Environmental Health Specialist and must be completed in their entirety. For questions regarding the application process or application requirements please contact our office at (719) 578-3199, option 3.